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Protecting children against the third wave of COVID 19

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Immunity and COVID

Immunity is the body’s protective mechanism for preventing any disease. Proper nutrition and hydration are vital. People who eat a well-balanced diet tend to be healthier with stronger immune systems and a lower risk of being infected by any infectious disease. When a baby is born, their immune system is not fully developed, hence vaccination becomes essential. Vaccines reduce the risk of infection among children by enhancing and boosting their body’s natural defense to help safely develop immunity against the disease. Additionally, boosting immunity also helps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and control it. Prevention is always better than cure; hence vaccination becomes important in protecting children against various viral infections and keeping them healthy. Childhood vaccination is essential as it helps to provide immunity before children are exposed to the potentially life-threatening diseases. As of now, still vaccines for children against COVID-19 are in developing stages and their safety and effectiveness for children are being studied. 1

A wave of fear has cropped into the general public that the third wave of COVID-19 may affect children more due to the emergence of a new delta variant, which has affected children in countries like the UK, Singapore and New York. But no such significant evidence is yet available, hence paediatricians from India are suggesting that it is more essential to focus on boosting the Children’s’ innate immunity which will naturally help them to fight and protect against Covid-19 infection. As the COVID-19 vaccine specifically for children is still in the developing phase, hence, vaccinating children against seasonal flu is being advised by many child specialists.2

Prevention from the spread and consequent illness is of utmost importance. For optimum prevention and protection of children from COVID-19 infection, the below measures become important 3,4.

  • Making children understand the importance of maintaining a physical distance and staying indoors in the home unless it is urgent.
  • Teaching them to wear masks properly covering the mouth and nose and use of masks is essential if we are going out. Children above two years of age can also wear a mask.
  •  Making children wash their hands with soap or sanitizing the whole hand using 70 per cent sanitiser frequently.
  • Teaching the kids to cover their mouth and nose with their bent elbow or tissue when they need to cough or sneeze, then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
  • Avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth as this would transmit the viruses from the surface.
  • Additionally avoiding fat intake, lowering intake of saturated fats, and produced trans fats, limiting sugars and salt intake, drinking enough water, and balance calories boost the innate immunity in a human
  • Keeping the kids sufficiently hydrated, and making a habit of drinking 8–10 cups of water every day, which helps to detoxify the body.
  • Encouraging children to have fresh fruits and vegetables that are loaded with most of the essential macro and micronutrients and daily consumption can also meet the recommended daily amount which is essential to maintain the body’s natural innate immunity and act as a protective shield against COVID-19 infection.
  • Avoiding public functions, social gatherings, and group playing.
  • Discussing the preventive protocols with children and educating them with first-hand knowledge of basic things required to handle in case of emergency.
  • Keep informed about the latest developments with COVID-19 and follow the advice and guidelines given by health care providers to protect from COVID-19.
  • Getting all above 18yrs vaccinated, would reduce the chances of infection and spread.
  • Parents must get vaccinated so that they do not pass on the infection to their children. The current guidelines support vaccinating even lactating mothers.
  • The mental health of the children should be monitored and keep them engaged in meaningful activities.

If any child gets infected then the below measures become important 5 :

  • Isolating the infected kid from other family members, and designate one person to take care of the child.
  • Home testing should be preferred rather than going to the hospital and in-crowd. Avoid going to the hospital.
  • Online consultations with a paediatrician are advisable for the management of the disease.
  • Consulting the doctor immediately or taking to a hospital if symptoms include breathlessness, decreased food intake, severe pain or discomfort.
  • Extra precautions and early referrals should be considered in children with pre-existing co-morbidities

Following the above measures, motivating oneself and the children with positive thoughts and engaging children in creative in-door activities can give psychological boost up against depression being caused due to this pandemic situation and help in protecting children from COVID-19 infection.

Reference:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/why-vaccinate/vaccine-decision.html? CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fvaccines%2Fparents%2Fvaccine-decision%2Findex.html
  2. https://qz.com/india/2021749/will-indias-third-wave-of-covid-19-affect-more-children/
  3. https://www.unicef.org/india/coronavirus/covid-19/covid-19-and-children?gclid=CjwKCAjw87SHBhBiEiwAukSeUU9HqZM_oBHnXJYvO3UesUs6D6Et_fxC3vio936Kuk_UmTAisQuCZhoC1esQAvD_BwE
  4. http://www.emro.who.int/nutrition/healthy-eating/index.html
  5. https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/industry/protecting-children-from-the-third-wave-of-covid-19/83804812
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