Covid safety protocols

Childhood Immunization during Covid-19 Pandemic

We get this recurring question from parents whether they can postpone their child’s regular vaccinations during the Covid pandemic — either because they are scared to come to the hospital/clinic or because there is a lockdown.

To avoid confusion, in this article vaccination refers to your child’s regular immunization and not the Covid vaccine.

The short answer is that it is ok to delay some vaccinations by a few days/weeks but other critical vaccinations must be give on time. Check with your pediatrician or chat with us and we will advise you based on your child’s age and the vaccination that is due to be given.

Almost all pediatric hospitals/clinics give parents a vaccination/immunization schedule for the child.This chart shows a recommended age range for some vaccines and with these vaccines there is some flexibility with when they can be given. For example, the Hepatitis A1 vaccine is given to a child between the 12th and 18th month. So if your child has just turned 12 months, you can wait a few weeks for the pandemic to subside to get your child this vaccine. But please don’t make this decision yourself without consulting your pediatrician.

We won’t list the entire immunization schedule in this article, for the sake of keeping this readable.

Other diseases don’t disappear just because there is Covid

It is important to get your child the prescribed vaccines because other diseases don’t disappear just because there is a Covid pandemic. BCG, Hepatitis, MMR, OPV and other vaccines are important to safeguard your child from diseases like Tuberculosis, Hepatitis, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Polio etc. It is important to protect your child from all of these serious diseases.

What precautions can we take when we go to the hospital/clinic for immunization?

  1. Call your pediatrician’s assistant or the front desk person and ask them what Covid safety protocols the hospital/clinic is following.
  2. Before you leave for the hospital/clinic, call the hospital/clinic and ask them how much wait time you might have before your child is vaccinated.
  3. Follow the usual Covid protocols of social distancing, wearing a good mask (N95 if you can or double mask), hand sanitizing and not touching frequently-used things like door handles.
  4. See if you can pay in advance by online payment as this will reduce both the wait time and physical interaction with the front desk staff.
  5. In some hospitals the pediatrician can inform the pharmacy staff in advance to keep the vaccine ready for your scheduled time. This will also reduce wait time and physical interaction with staff. Ask your doctor or the assistant if this is possible.

Is it safe to go to a Government hospital for the child’s immunization?

Many of the Government hospitals in Bangalore have made very good arrangements to keep the Covid patients separate from the regular patients. In some Government hospitals, there are separate buildings or dedicated wings for Covid patients.
Please call the Government hospital and ask them about the arrangements to make your decision. Don’t hesitate.

Is it safer to go to a clinic instead of a large hospital for the child’s immunization?

This is a decision only you can make based on the information you have about the hospital/clinic’s arrangements.

Some of the things you must consider in deciding are –

  1. Is the hospital a non-Covid hospital or do they treat Covid patients?
  2. If the hospital takes Covid patients, then are the Covid testing and treatment facilities in a separate building/wing?
  3. How big and well-organized is the waiting area of the hospital/clinic?
  4. How punctual is the doctor and the hospital/clinic staff so you don’t have to spend much time waiting.

Can the child be vaccinated at home?

There are some important reasons why pediatricians ask the parents to bring the child to the hospital/clinic for vaccination.

  1. The vaccines must be maintained at the right temperature. If you buy the vaccines in a pharmacy, pediatricians can’t be sure that the vaccines have been consistently stored at the right temperature and how long they have been out of refrigeration.
  2. Vaccines have been given to children for decades and have proven to be extremely safe. However, in extremely rare cases, some children might have an immediate reaction to a vaccine or to part of a vaccine. These rare situations might need immediate medical attention by a doctor. For this reason, vaccines must be given by a pediatrician or in the presence of a pediatrician. But it is practically impossible for the pediatrician to make so many home visits and to cover the extremely rare situations where there might be a reaction a vaccine, it is safer to take your child to the pediatrician for the vaccination.

In summary, please gather information about your child’s upcoming vaccination from your pediatrician and ask questions about the hospital/clinic’s safety arrangements before going for your child’s immunization, but don’t postpone it without checking with your pediatrician first.

Originally published in Medium: https://medium.com/@ovum.pediatrics/can-we-postpone-our-childs-regular-vaccinations-during-the-covid-pandemic-9095da0c8c85

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *