Sri Lanka doctors urge child vaccination to prevent long COVID

ECONOMYNEXT – Children can be saved from long COVID conditions such as multi system inflammatory syndrome if they get vaccinated, health officials in Sri Lanka said on Thursday (13), urging parents to get the vaccine for children over the age of 12.

Health authorities started administering a single dose of Pfizer-BionTech vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 last week. However, health officials have observed a hesitancy among some parents to get their children jabbed.

Pediatrician, Faculty of Medicine of University of Colombo, Dr Pujitha Wickramasinghe on Wednesday said it is unfair for the child to not to get the vaccine because of the parents.

“Sometimes these children can get multi system inflammatory syndrome (MIS) due to COVID infection, which has also been identified in adults and infants as well,” said Wickramasinghe.

“In the beginning of the pandemic, we saw multiple cases. But this has reduced over the time due to the majority being vaccinated and the spreading of the virus being controlled.”

MIS is a condition that causes different body parts to become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Though rare, it can develop in children as well as adults who had COVID-19.

Symptoms such as high blood pressure, an increased heart rate, a decrease in urine passing and several other symptoms can also be seen according to the organ the condition has affected.

Even though MIS is not a condition that can occur specifically due to COVID-19, health experts say some symptoms may appear in some COVID-19 patients about two to six weeks after recovery.

“The vaccine can prevent these direct as well as indirect causes,” said Wickramasinghe.

“I do not know why parents are hesitant. We are doing it after getting scientific data based on experiments done in many other countries. Only after going through all those data have we recommended the vaccine. We have not seen any significant side effects in the vaccine so far.

“It is really important for children to get the vaccine in the recommended dose and in the recommended process. I think it is unfair for the child if the parents are not getting them the vaccine.”

Sri Lanka has vaccinated 16.1 million of the total population in the country with a single dose while 13.9 million have received their first two doses so far.

So far 4.5 million have received the booster dose. (Colombo/Jan 13/2022)

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