Children with special needs and chronic illnesses: Pfizer Jab to be Administered from Today
By Thameenah Razeek
Sri Lanka will begin vaccinating those aged 12 to 19 today (24), with the first steps being taken to vaccinate children with special needs and chronic illnesses. The immunisation campaign will kick off at Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children (LRH), where children will receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. President of the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) and Paediatric Neurologist Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya declared that, unlike adults, children will be vaccinated under the supervision of specialist doctors to monitor children’s behaviour after getting the vaccine.
He made these statements during the weekly news briefing at the President’s Media Centre, which focused on the Government’s vaccination programme and the challenges it faces in relation to children. Despite the fact that a child is not mandated to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, Dr. Padeniya explained that the purpose of vaccinating children is to reduce the number of child fatalities, the speed with which the virus spreads, and the number of patients admitted to hospitals.
He said only around 4.2 million of the country’s six million youngsters are now going to school, with only about 50,000 children with special needs. Pfizer is the best vaccine to use right now, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Padeniya explained how the Government and health sector are preparing to vaccinate children, stressing that a paediatrician or physiotherapist will be present while the child is vaccinated.
He said before the child gets vaccinated, the parent must fill in a form that will be signed and authorised by a paediatrician or physiotherapist. “This is done to safeguard the child’s health before and after vaccination. The documentation, as well as a pamphlet on how to act before and after a child’s immunisation, would be made available on websites,” he said. At the same news conference, Dr. Prasanna Gunasena, Chairman of the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC), said the Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases (ACCD) will meet next week to discuss how much immunisation Sri Lanka needs for children.
He also stated that, if necessary, they had negotiated agreements to purchase an extra 14 million Pfizer vaccines. “If the committee approves the 14 million vaccines, we will acquire them,” he said. Dr. Padeniya went on to clarify that for the time being, vaccine authorisation is only given to those aged 12 to 19, as well as those over the age of 15. When asked what efforts the Government has made so far to ensure that there are no crowds or stampedes within the vaccination centre, he stated that every child that visits the centre will return after receiving the vaccine.
“Doctors examine the child first, then the parent must consent to the vaccine, the child is vaccinated, and finally the child is monitored for a length of time. Thus, immunisation will take longer than usual.” Finally, he urged parents to support immunisations for their children while avoiding misinformation, myths, and superstitions. “Not just Sri Lanka, but even Sweden, London, and Germany, are affected. Some countries, most notably the United Arab Emirates, administer Sinopharm vaccines to youngsters, whereas others use other vaccines,” he explained.