Boosting children’s immunity in time of COVID-19

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    Fear of COVID-19 has caused many children to miss scheduled vaccinations. To help address this, innovative solutions such as drive-through vaccinations and home visits were seen in the past months. Likewise, catch-up vaccination schedules are in place, but even then it is still best to adhere to your pediatrician’s recommended schedule.

    Missed vaccinations pose an impending outbreak of vaccine preventable diseases like measles, amidst an ongoing pandemic. Through immunization, vaccines help develop a child’s natural defenses to fight vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs). Immunization is best done prior to the exposure of a child to viruses and bacteria covered by vaccines. Most of these vaccinations would occur during your child’s first 1000 days of life.

    These days are critical for receiving immunization on schedule. Some of the recommended vaccinations that should not be missed during this period are: bacilli Calmette-Guerin (BCG), Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Polio, Haemophilus influenzae type B (DTaP-IPV-Hib), Rotavirus, Mumps, Measles, and Rubella (MMR), Influenza, Japanese Encephalitis, Hepatitis A, and Varicella.

    In the event that a child missed a vaccination, he or she is left vulnerable to a disease that could be fatal. For example, a baby that missed an MMR shot could acquire measles and suffer from complications of pneumonia, with a future risk for subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE).

    According to UNICEF, there was a decline in child immunization coverage last year, and this coverage is projected to decline further due to the disruption of routine immunization activities caused by COVID-19.

    Dr. Joselyn A. Eusebio, President of the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS), assures that there is hope despite these hurdles to strengthening children’s immunity through vaccination.

    Visits to the pediatrician for immunization shots are safe, thanks to guidelines created by the Philippine Pediatric Society/Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines. While safety measures are being rolled out, it is still advised to consult your pediatrician prior to visits, preferably through telehealth.