As the call for vaccination for children picks up steam — with many countries already allowing children below 12 years to be vaccinated — a new survey has found one of the biggest worries that parents of five to 11-year-olds face is whethervaccines can negatively affect fertility and puberty in .
The survey released by Kaiser Family Foundation found that 66 per cent of such parents raised concerns amid ongoing vaccination trials in young children. According to a CNN report, the US Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use authorisation for Pfizer’s vaccine in this younger age group, and vaccine advisers to the CDC will meet to discuss whether to recommend its use in these young kids.
While in India, discussions, and talks are ongoing, we reached out to experts to understand whether such concerns hold any ground.
Dr P G Samdani, senior pediatrician, Bhatia Hospital, said he has not received any queries from parents on the effects of Covid vaccine on children’s fertility. “In fact, I have got more positive queries on its availability and their keenness to get their little ones protected from the virus. The misconception or claim linking Covid vaccine with infertility has not been proven. There is no data to support this. Viral vaccines have been used in the past, so this misconception is baseless. Also, no side-effects have been reported so far among the trial participants of children in India,” he said.
Dr Suresh Kumar Panuganti, lead consultant – pediatric critical care and pediatrics, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad, said vaccination is well-tolerated in children because of the immunological response their body produces following immunisation.
“cannot be and has not been scientifically studied in trials which are conducted in the age group 2-18 years, hence it should not be considered as a riskfactor. Most vaccines confer immunity following injection of a killed virus or a part of the virus into the human body which stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies that fight against the infection. Given the desperate times, it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure maximum vaccination coverage as no one is safe until everyone around us is safe,” he explained.
Dr Chetan R Mundada, senior consultant pediatrician and lead pediatric intensivist, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad mentioned that there is no such adverse effect noted in adults vaccinated so far, and more importantly, there are billions of other vaccine doses given to children worldwide for decades, and infertility has not been reported as a side effect or unintended consequence!
Dr Panuganti added that in India, like Covid-19 vaccines for adults underwent various trials (though at a short interval, given the unusual circumstances and nature of once in a lifetime pandemic), in children, too, they are “waiting for the approval of Drugs Controller General of India for emergency usage approval”.
“Conducting vaccination trials in children is a humongous task due to various inhibitions amongst parents, unfounded beliefs, and also ethical considerations involved.
Various phases of trials need to be completed and the data needs to be assessed by qualified teams of various departments before a vaccine is made available for public use,” Dr Panuganti told.
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