Many parents reluctant to get children vaccinated against Covid: Study

India has so far approved the a DNA vaccine ZyCoV-D -- which is the first coronavirus vaccine using this vector -- for children between the ages of 12 to 18 years.
Only 33.5% parents were willing to vaccinate their children for Covid-19. (ANI file photo)
Only 33.5% parents were willing to vaccinate their children for Covid-19. (ANI file photo)
Updated on Nov 07, 2021 01:07 AM IST
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By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Only 33.5% parents were willing to vaccinate their children for Covid-19, according to a pre-print study based on an online survey by researchers from Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER-Chandigarh) and Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research (JIPMER-Puducherry) among others.

The key reasons for reluctance among parents were concerns about safety and effectiveness (86.4%) and side effects (78.2%), and the fact children tend to have a milder disease (52.8%), according to the responses of 770 parents from across the country. The findingers were uploaded on the pre-print medical research server medRxiv. The researchers also found that the parents’ willingness to get their child vaccinated was linked to their own willingness to get it and their level of education, according to the study.

“Factors such as newness of vaccine, their rapid development and unknown long-term side effects influence parent’s perception of vaccine safety and their intention to get themselves and their children vaccinated. Health care providers play a key role in influencing decision of parents towards vaccine acceptance and uptake,” the study said.

India has so far approved the a DNA vaccine ZyCoV-D -- which is the first coronavirus vaccine using this vector -- for children between the ages of 12 to 18 years. An expert committee has also cleared the indigenously developed Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for use in children between the ages of 2 to 18 years. But ZyCoV-D is yet to be rolled out, and Covaxin’s use in children us yet to be cleared by the apex drug controller.

“It is an online survey-based study and it shows that parents are apprehensive about vaccination. Besides, children have mild symptoms and the mortality is low. The vaccines are to prevent even the one death that might happen,” said Dr Ritesh Singh from the department of community medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences-Kalyani.

Experts, however, say that it is not essential to vaccinate the very young children against the infection. Dr Suneela Garg, professor in the department of community medicine at Maulana Azad Medical College and a member of the Lancet Commission on Covid-19 in India, said: “This is probably a reflection of what experts have always been saying – It is not necessary to vaccinate the very young children. It should be given only to those between the ages of 12 to 18 years, especially those with co-morbidities. The young children have less ACEII receptors (which is used by the Sars-CoV-2 virus to enter human cells) and hence have only mild disease when infected.”

She said, “Now, through sero-surveys we know that children are infected at the same rate as adults. And, the natural infection provides much better immunity than vaccines. What is worth noting is that parents have already started sending their children to schools, which means they have accepted the risk of a mild infection. The fear has gone down.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Anonna Dutt is a health reporter at Hindustan Times. She reports on Delhi government’s health policies, hospitals in Delhi, and health-related feature stories.

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Friday, May 20, 2022