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Experts call for on-site data entry during Covid-19 vaccination of children

Experts call for on-site data entry during Covid-19 vaccination of children

ISLAMABAD: As the government started vaccinating children aged five to 11 years against Covid-19, the health experts fear that there is a strong possibility that some children might get two doses in less than 21 days, the minimum time required for the administration of second dose.

Though, according to the experts, it makes no adverse effect on the children’s health or the efficacy of the vaccine, they believe that an on-site data entry system and finger marking should be introduced to avoid administration of two doses to the children and to follow the standard operating procedure (SOP) which is in practice all over the world.

Stating that it is better to have two doses instead of having none, the experts now suggest that those children who have already been inoculated twice should consider that they have got two doses and they should now go for the booster dose after six months.

The government started vaccination of the children aged between five and 11 years on September 19 in selected districts of Punjab, Sindh and Islamabad, and for that purpose it has constituted teams for visiting houses, schools and public places.

Say there is strong possibility some children may get second dose before stipulated time

It has been decided that children will be vaccinated with two doses of the vaccine with an interval of 21 to 56 days.

The vaccinators have been visiting communities, schools, religious seminaries and the facility is provided at mass vaccination centres to cater to maximum number of children.

However, to avoid chances of refusals and increase the acceptance level of vaccination it has been decided that the vaccine will be administered after taking consent from parents.

Although consent forms are mandatory for vaccination, it has been observed that some parents allowed vaccination of their children at their homes despite the fact that they had already sent consent forms to schools.

A senior official of the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS), requesting not to be quoted, said that teams of vaccinators were visiting a number of places due to which there was strong possibility that some children would be vaccinated twice.

“Parents get their children vaccinated at the mass vaccination centres and then children can be vaccinated again at schools because usually in educational institutions students are vaccinated and data entry is done in the evening. Similarly, a child can be vaccinated twice by union council teams and at schools. Five and six years old children cannot tell they have been already vaccinated,” he said.

However, Member of Scientific Task Force on Covid-19 Dr Javed Akram, while talking to Dawn, said it was better to have two doses of vaccine instead of none.

“But chances of dual vaccination in less than 21 days can be avoided by introducing on-site data entry and finger marking. If online data entry would be introduced there will be no chance that a child would be vaccinated twice. Moreover, nowadays there are inks which remain on fingers for four to six weeks so finger marking should be used for this age group of children,” he said.

“However, those who have been inoculated twice, they should not get worried and consider that they have got the second dose and should wait for six months and then get the booster dose,” he said.

Member of the NCOC and Vice Chancellor Health Services Academy Dr Shahzad Ali Khan said some parents were being confused that their children had been vaccinated twice as anti-measles campaign is also going on and parents take it as Covid-19 injection.

Microbiologist Prof Dr Javaid Usman told Dawn that although ideally it should not happen but parents of children who have been inoculated twice need not to worry.

“The vaccine is made of dead virus and if 20 particles are administered, instead of 10, it does not matter,” he said.

It is worth mentioning that in February this year, NCOC had decided to approach Covax to start vaccination of children aged five to 11 years (numbering 43.7 million) against Covid-19.

Covax is an alliance that was set up by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and World Health Organisation (WHO) in April 2020.

It had pledged provision of free vaccines for 20pc of the population of around 190 countries, including Pakistan.

The country has already received a large number of consignments of different vaccines under the Covax arrangement.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2022

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