THE need to vaccinate children has been emphasised by a top World Health Organisation (WHO) official to stop the cute carriers of Covid-19 from spreading the virus in the community and, in rare cases, suffering severe complications.
WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO) regional emergency director Dr Richard Brennan noted that while hospitalisation and deaths among youngsters are lower than other age categories, infections among them in some cases can turn out to be severe, as well as posing a threat to the elderly and the immunocompromised.
Dr Brennan also stated that separate studies have demonstrated the efficacy of vaccines in children.
“We (WHO) have already stated that all data confirms that children are more at risk of infection,” Dr Brennan told the GDN. “However, thankfully, child mortality and hospitalisation rates are low.
“Yet, children may act as hosts or vectors for disease transmission to adults or older people who come into contact with them, putting them at risk or increasing their exposure to severe infections, symptoms and complications. As a result, we recommend that children and adults follow the same precautions to stop the spread.
“Vaccines have proven efficacious as studied among children aged five and above, as well as those aged 12 and above. They have been shown to be effective in both categories.”
Yesterday, Bahrain started distributing vaccines to children aged five to eleven, and the GDN reported that they can be registered to receive their Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination shots.
The Health Ministry announced yesterday that there was a large response to vaccination requests for the younger age category. In fact, the country also approved Sinopharm for children as young as three with low immunity in August, and these jabs were made open to all in this age category three months ago.
“Demand is encouraging,” it said. “We urge all parents to register their children for vaccinations in order to protect everyone’s health and safety.”
In May of last year, Bahrain approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 12 to 17 – a critical step in the country’s steady recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Although most children who catch the virus have mild symptoms or no symptoms, globally, some have become severely ill. They might need to be hospitalised, treated in the intensive care unit or placed on a ventilator to help them breathe, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some children get symptoms caused by inflammation throughout the body, several weeks after they were infected with the virus. It can affect many different body systems, including the lungs, heart, brain, kidneys, blood vessels, skin, eyes and gastrointestinal system. This is called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). Doctors are trying to find out how these symptoms are related to coronavirus infection.
The GDN reported last week that Bahrain ranks fifth in the world in terms of the number of Covid-19 booster shots administered per 100 people.
According to the scientific online publication ‘Our World in Data’, the distribution rate of the third vaccine jab in the kingdom is 50 per 100 as of last week. The rate is the ‘total number of vaccine booster doses administered, divided by the total population of the country’.
The country has vaccinated 1,189,959 people with two doses of a vaccine, which is 79.33pc of Bahrain’s estimated 1.5m population, while, 1,211,163, which is 80.7pc of the population is vaccinated with a single dose. Around 61pc of population (914,663) is also jabbed with a booster dose.
Parents can register their children for vaccination through the BeAware Application or by visiting healthalert.gov.bh and the jabs would be administered through the vaccination centre at Sitra Mall. Registration for the shot requires the consent of the child’s parent or guardian. An adult must also accompany them when they receive the jab.