Key Changes to Child Immunization A Post-Pandemic Plan

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Dr. Atish Laddad
Dr. Atish Laddad, Leading Pediatrician

By: Dr. Atish Laddad, Founder & Director at Docterz

As the global pandemic continues to spread all across the world at an alarming rate, being home-bound to limit physical contact has been encouraged as an operative precautionary measure to prevent virus transmission. In such a situation it is needless to comprehend that a pandemic does not expunge the possibilities of other diseases and their harmful impact on human health in the upcoming decades. As one deadly infection spreads throughout the world, immunization efforts must continue to thwart the outbreaks of other contagious ailments. While the pandemic resulted in the scaling back of many services, including some healthcare services, the jeopardy of further outbreaks of infectious ailments in the post-pandemic phase grows. Moreover, the healthcare disturbances brought about by COVID-19 could have upsetting impacts on child mortality. 

Children fall under an immunocompromised state which means since their immune systems are still maturing, they tend to be more vulnerable to fall prey to infections. Hence the current COVID-19 pandemic is a reminder of the significance of child vaccination. Although the unexpected crises have witnessed a sharp decline in childhood immunization rates, getting your child vaccinated on a timely basis will not just help restore their immunity amid the pandemic but will also guard them against any contagions even after we enter the post-pandemic world.

The noticeable declines in routine pediatric vaccine ordering and doses administered are a clear indication of the fact that your child might face greater risks for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illnesses in the near future. The parental worries about getting the child exposed to COVID-19 during clinic visits or lack of healthcare access during the crisis might have contributed to the immunization declines. Well-timed vaccination is a clear reminder to parents of the prerequisite to shield their children against serious vaccine-preventable diseases, even as the pandemic witnesses a closure. Post pandemic once the social distancing norms are relaxed, children who are not protected by immunizations will be more defenseless to combat diseases. In response, sustained well-synchronized efforts between health care providers and public health officials will be vital to achieving a rapid catch-up vaccination.

Below mentioned are some of the key alterations made to childhood immunization in order to uphold high vaccination coverage even after the global pandemic has been completely eradicated.

The entire domain of child-healthcare is bound to witness major changes post the crisis. The countries child healthcare domain must emphasize maintaining childhood immunization as part of the indispensable health services. They must prioritize primary vaccine doses, while safeguarding stringent infection preclusion and control measures, such as dedicated time slots only on an appointment basis and maintaining physical distancing in waiting rooms even post the pandemic. 

The pediatric authorities will have to emphasize the significance of registering the children who had missed their routine doses and must prioritize them.

The authorities must take suitable measures to set-up mass vaccination and polio immunization campaign post the pandemic in order to bridge the vaccination gaps among children. During the campaign, with infection, prevention, and control measures in place, health workers must immunize a large group of children to determine the vaccines they still needed.

After entering the unlock phase with gradual ease in the lockdown restrictions, child and adult vaccination services that had been postponed in some parts of the country are now recommencing. This change has been facilitated by making use of innovative approaches like mobile vaccination centers, drive-through vaccinations, and vaccinating at your door-steps to administer lifesaving vaccines to the most susceptible.

The world is currently battling hard in the midst of a pandemic. By continuing to administer child immunizations safely, our country can undertake innovative steps to avert a further burden on its well-being eco-systems that could be triggered by outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.