The last 2 years that brought about a paradigm lifestyle shift globally have impacted our health, no doubt. But to what extent? Recent survey reports published by the Lancet present worrying facts about the immunization coverage of babies born after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Retrospective analysis of the National Family Health Survey of 2019–2021 data by Lancet Study, tells that the children born in India after COVID-19 had 2%–10% lower probability of immunization and 3%–5% lower probability of timely vaccination as compared with their siblings who were born prior to the pandemic.
What does this imply?
With the forced lockdown and a fear plaguing the mindset of parents about stepping out to hospitals and clinics to get their little ones vaccinated, there has been reported delays in timely vaccinations of children. But does a little delay have any great impact, you may wonder. Apparently it does.
The report suggests how “vaccines given later in the immunization schedule had greater delay than early-dose vaccines”.
The findings of the study showed that the immunisation coverage was lower in Covid-affected children as compared with unaffected children, ranging from 2% lower for bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) and hepatitis B to 9% for diphtheria, tetanus toxoid and pertussis (DPT-3) and 10% for polio. There was no significant difference in MCV1 (Measles-containing-vaccine first-dose) coverage, the study added.
How does this impact our kids?
The verdict is clear, vaccinations even if delayed, need to be administered and not missed. It is scary to note that the missed vaccinations among the focus group studied showed an increase prevalence of child mortality and morbidity.
That’s not all. Secondary effects such as poorer cognitive skills were also reported, thereby affecting the performance of kids in schools. Without appropriate catch-up vaccination efforts, preventable child morbidity and mortality can increase substantially in future years, especially for vulnerable populations.
A delayed vaccination for the little ones put them at a greater risk to infections and makes them easier targets to contract diseaeses that are easily preventable.
A report from WHO gives an alarming statistic about the number of children across the globe who have missed out on essential vaccines in their primary stages of growth, that caould have long lasting impact.
- Only 25 vaccine introductions other than COVID-19 vaccine were reported in 2021.
- Global coverage dropped from 86% in 2019 to 81% in 2021
- An estimated 25 million children under the age of 1 year did not receive basic vaccines, which is the highest number since 2009.
- The number of girls not vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) increased by 3.5 million, compared to 2019.
- In 2021, the number of completely unvaccinated children increased by 5 million since 2019.
Why you musn’t miss out on booster doses for kids
Booster doses are a reminder for your child’s immune system to keep them safe and protected from a range of diseases. It is important to complete the circle of protection and build their immunity and health.
Most of your child’s vaccinations are completed between birth and 6 years. Many vaccines are given more than once, at different ages, and in combinations. This means that you’ll need to keep a careful record of your child’s shots.
A primary series of 3 doses of DTP-containing vaccine is recommended, with the first dose administered as early as 6 weeks of age. Subsequent doses should be given with an interval of at least 4 weeks between doses. The third dose of the primary series should be completed by the time they turn 6 months.
Revisit your child’s immunization record and take a look if you have missed out on any of the essentials. Go through the fine print, and ensure even the booster doses are complete and on track. Here is why DTP booster doses for instance, are crucial for your child’s healthy development:
- DTP vaccines are needed to prevent Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis which are highly contagious diseases. These vaccines are recommended by the Indian Association of Pediatrics (IAP) and the WHO and CDC health authorities.
- Diphtheria and Pertussis can result in respiratory problems. These have proven to be fatal in babies (who do not have a well-developed immune system yet) and older adults who have reduced immune response.
- Tetanus or lockjaw is also a deadly disease for which routine vaccination is a must to prevent fatal outcomes post injuries.
Another study we earlier reported on Kidsstoppress revealed that after the age of 2 years, most children do not visit their paediatricians for vaccines. Most parents are aware of and opt for vaccinations till the age of 2 years, after which the perception is that there is no more need to vaccinate. Young children are at a higher risk of contracting a serious disease that could cause hospitalization or death. Delaying or spreading out vaccine doses leaves your child unprotected during the time when they need vaccine protection the most.
We have put together a bundle of useful resources, expert tips and downloadable immunization chart that will come in handy for new parents. Access it here.