Published: 21st June 2021
Experts discuss the precautions that must be taken in pediatric healthcare in the event of a third COVID-19 wave
Speaking about vaccination for children, the doctor said vaccinations for vaccine-preventable diseases should continue on time for children as per schedule
Experts are forewarning against the third wave of COVID-19 hitting India as early as September, with many fearing that it could hit children disproportionately. According to Rekha Mittal, Neurologist at Rainbow Hospitals, since many adults would have had the disease or the COVID vaccine, in comparison children would be a susceptible population.
"Third-wave and more waves can always occur in a pandemic till it burns out or there is herd immunity. So far in our experience, the majority of children who have had COVID infection have either been asymptomatic or had mild symptoms. Therefore we hope the next wave will not be a serious threat to children," Mittal told IANSlife.
"The treatment of children who get serious manifestations of COVID requires specialists who are trained in intensive care of children, and the appropriate equipment and support staff. We should definitely plan and be prepared for a crisis situation if it does occur. We should not be complacent." How can a surge in cases be avoided? The expert suggests not letting our guard down, by maintaining COVID-appropriate behaviour such as social distancing, use of masks, and hand sanitisation measures.
"We need to avoid crowded places such as malls, markets, gatherings etc. Also, the children will get protected indirectly, if the adults around them receive the COVID vaccine." Rainbow Hospitals successfully administered the wonder drug Zolgensma, which is also the world's costliest at Rs 16 crore per shot, to a three-year-old Hyderabad boy this month. The medical marvel Zolgensma is a single dose intravenous injection used in gene therapy is for replacing the defective SMN1 gene through an adenoviral vector.
Asked how critical it can be to administer an expensive injection like this with skill, Mittal says: "Administering such an expensive and uncommonly used drug can be a challenge. One will need to have complete knowledge about procuring, handling and administering the medication. Also, one would have to have all facilities to handle the side effects if they occur, such as liver damage, drop in platelet count etc."
Speaking about vaccination for children, the doctor said vaccinations for vaccine-preventable diseases should continue on time for children as per schedule. "Rainbow hospital provides a safe area where children can be brought in for vaccinations. Trials for COVID vaccination in children above 2 years of age have started in India. As and when COVID vaccine is approved and available for children, Rainbow hospitals will be ready to administer the same to as many children as possible."