A lot of parents have been asking if it’s alright to delay their child’s vaccination during this COVID-19 outbreak. Many families have been practising social distancing and are staying at home as much as possible to avoid exposure to the virus. Some are making decisions to take extra precautions in protecting their little ones, including delaying their baby’s booster vaccination.
“As the pandemic progresses, critical life-saving services, including immunization, will likely be disrupted, especially in Africa, Asia and the Middle East where they are sorely needed, “ the UNICEF said recently in a statement.
What is the risk of delaying?
During this period, parents must consider the risks of delaying or missing vaccination. Important vaccination such as MMR must be taken to prevent infection against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). There are two doses of MMR vaccine that should be given to the child, starting with the first dose at 9 months of age and a second dose at 12 months of age. At 7 years old of age, a child must be given another MR vaccine to prevent measles and rubella. It’s worth noting that measles is highly contagious and deadly. In the year 2018, more than 140 000 people died from measles – mostly children under the age of 5 years old.
To vaccination now or later?
As we are going through Movement Control Order (MCO) period, many parents are making decisions to delay their child’s vaccination mainly to protect their loved ones from being exposed to COVID-19. While there is good reason to delay your visit to the hospital or clinic, there are also benefits of having your child vaccinated on time according to the vaccination schedule.
Five reasons why this is the best time to vaccinate your child
1. Less waiting time
Less sick children in hospital and clinic. This also means that the waiting time is generally shorter compared to usual.
2. Extra precautions are taken by hospitals and clinics
Hospitals and clinics are taking extra precautions during this period. For example, ABC Children Specialist Clinic is practising dedicated vaccination days to allow only healthy children visits. Some clinics are practising appointment-based visits, hence limiting exposure to diseases. Health declaration forms and temperature checks are in place to monitor the spread of COVID-19. Hospitals and clinics are sanitized frequently too.
3. Children are less affected by COVID-19 compared to adults
Based on the available evidence, children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. While some children and infants have become sick with COVID-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date.
4. Parents have the time now
Many parents are staying at home during this period. It’s anticipated that many have to return to work after MCO is lifted. Therefore, this is a good time to bring your children for vaccination.
5. Social distancing mentality is happening
A lot of parents are starting to practise social distancing which includes ensuring seating at least 1 meter away from each other, wearing face masks and avoiding crowded places. This helps to prevent the spread of all kinds of viruses and generally pose a lesser health risk to your children.
Although COVID-19 is a global issue, parents need to ensure that their children are vaccinated according to schedule. Children do not receive any known benefits from delaying or skipping vaccination. Instead, it will be disastrous if we have to deal with another threat, vaccine-preventable disease!
Dr JoAnn Rajah is a child specialist that provides paediatric care to baby and children in PJ and KL. She is very passionate about medical care for baby and children. Her core strength lies in diagnosing early signs of child health issues and guiding parents on how to manage them.