Urging government to start vaccinating children of 12 years and above against COVID-19, renowned pediatricians at a news conference on Wednesday made it clear that vaccine was safe for children and parents should get their children vaccinated at the earliest so that education and teaching process could be resumed in the country.
“Currently, Pfizer’s messenger RNA vaccine is being used for vaccinating children of 12 years and above in developed countries of the world and we would also recommend the government to vaccinate children of the same age in Pakistan.
We want to make it clear that vaccine against COVID-19 is extremely safe for children and has very rare side effects,” President-elect of Pakistan Pediatric Association (PPA) Prof. Jamal Raza told a news conference at Karachi Press Club (KPC).
Accompanied by PPA President Prof. Jalal Akbar, General Secretary Dr. Khalid Shafi and Dr. Waseem Jamalvi, Prof. Jamal Raza said due to a poorly designed consent form, parents got confused and called upon the health authorities to design a simple consent form so that children could be given the COVID-19 vaccine as per their consent.
“Adults are given vaccine when they themselves approach for getting vaccinated but for children, parents’ permission is a must.
All we are suggesting to the government is to prepare a simple consent form and get it signed from the parents.
We also assure parents that COVID-19 being used to vaccinate children is very safe as it is being used in the US and European countries without causing any harm to children”, the eminent pediatrician maintained.
Confirming that Sindh government had not taken them into confidence while announcing to start vaccinating children upto 15 years and above, Prof. Jamal Raza said they could have helped the authorities in designing a better consent form and campaign for the vaccination but added that they were in the favour of starting the vaccination from 12 years. and above to prevent these children and their family members from the COVID-19.
Responding to a query, he said ultimately, governments would have to vaccinate all the children to achieve herd immunity but added that at the moment, safety and efficacy data of COVID-19 vaccine was available only upto 12 years so parents should get their children vaccinated to help in resuming educational process in the country.
He also called for a booster dose to healthcare workers, especially those dealing with children as well as immunocompromised segments of the society.
General Secretary PPA Dr. Khalid Shafi said education of children was the most affected area due to COVID-19 as millions of children were unable to attend schools, adding in order to get children back to schools, their vaccination was immensely important.
“Children are also getting infected with Coronavirus and as per national data, more than 86,693 children of less than 18 years of age have contracted COVID-19, of which 177 lost their lives. Around 11,391 children of one to five years of age also contracted COVID-19, of which 34 died.
So far, 4,477 children of less than one year have so far contracted COVID-19 and fortunately, none of them have died”, Dr. Khalid Shafi said and urged parents to get their children vaccinated so that they could get education regularly.