On May 27, NITI Aayog, a public policy think tank of the Government of India, released a list addressing 'myths' around the vaccination drive. The press release has "facts" told by Dr Vinod Paul, Member (Health) of NITI Aayog, against all the 'myths' that are going around across the country about the inefficiency of government in handling the second wave of coronavirus and also its failure in administering coronavirus vaccine.
Many Central Ministers also shared the press release to show that the government is doing the best that it can in procuring the coronavirus vaccine. Among the other 'myths', the press release also tried to put a stop to the rumour that 'Centre is not taking any step to vaccinate children', by doing a fact-check and claiming, "No country in the world is giving vaccines to children. Also, WHO has no recommendation on vaccinating children."
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, National General Secretary of Bharatiya Janata Party CT Ravi tweeted that no country in the world is giving coronavirus vaccines to children.
No country in the World is giving Vaccines to children.
A report by The Guardian published on May 5, 2021, said that Canada is the first nation in the world that approved the use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of 12-15 years.
On May 10, 2021, United States Food and Drugs Authority (USFDA) also approved the administration of Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus jab for children between 12-15 years. Two other vaccines, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson, are also under trial and are likely to be given emergency authorization for children between the age group 12-17 years in the coming months in the US.
As per a report published by Reuters on May 18, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the US had vaccinated 600,000 12 to15 years old till May 18.
Singapore approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for Children aged 12 to 15 on May 18, 2021, as reported by Channel News Asia.
Bahrain also approved the usage of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children above 12 years of age.
The National News reported on May 24, 2021, that thousands of 12 to 15 years old in Dubai receive Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the first week of approval.
Qatar has opened an online registration portal for children aged between 12 and 15 years for the coronavirus vaccine.
Thus, countries across the world are vaccinating Children.
What Is WHO's Stand On Vaccinating Children:
WHO has not recommended the use of the coronavirus vaccine for children. According to WHO, "There is not yet enough evidence on the use of vaccines against COVID-19 in children to make recommendations for children to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Children and adolescents tend to have the milder disease compared to adults. However, children should continue to have the recommended childhood vaccines."
While John Hopkins medicine said, "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have recently expanded the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine to adolescents ages 12 – 15. This means the FDA and the CDC determined that clinical trials show this vaccine is safe and effective for kids in this age range."
Clarification By the central Government:
When social media users pointed out that many nations globally are administering jabs to children above 12 years of age, NITI Aayog's Dr VK Paul gave a statement to ANI. "1-2 countries will start doing that now. WHO hasn't given any recommendation yet to cover the pediatric population in general as any illness in the pediatric population is very very mild".
Nirmala Sitharaman also clarified the statement through a Quote-Tweet. She tweeted, "My tweets (11) were drawing out essential elements of Dr V K Paul of @NITIAayog answers to FAQs. Subsequently, particularly on children he has given clarification through @ANI. (See below) Have tweeted that too. May kindly see. Thanks for drawing attention."
Later, the press release was updated and read, "The release mentions that 'no country in the world is giving vaccines to children'. It should read 'no country in the world is giving vaccines to children under 12 years", and termed the error as a " typographical omission".
PIB also later deleted the old tweet and retweeted, "Encouraging studies about the safety of vaccines in children. Trials in children in India are going to begin soon."
Who Are Considered To Be Children And Why They Need Vaccination?
As per the definition of UNICEF, a child is any person under the age of 18. According to many health experts, the third wave of coronavirus is going to hit countries later this year. Many experts say that the third wave will affect children more than adults. Hence, it is essential for children to be vaccinated.
While Centre Government, on May 24, 2021, announced that there is no indication that children will be severely or more affected in COVID-19 third wave.
How Is India's Preparation In Administering COVID-19 Vaccination To Children:
While there are two vaccines available in Indian markets, neither has data on children's trials. While Bharat Biotech got the approval of DGCI to start Phase 3 trials of its vaccine for the 2-18 age group, it is yet to begin. On the other hand, AstraZeneca is also carrying out trials for its vaccine in the 6-17 age group, but so far, there is no data on it yet. However, Pfizer earlier said that it was in discussions with India seeking approval for its Covid-19 vaccine.
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