The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we lived. With the growing fear of the third wave of COVID-19 in India due to the emergence of the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, vaccination today has become extremely critical.
The initial science on Omicron has few definitive clues.
- It colonises the nose and throat ; and the lungs not so much.
- It rapidly multiplies and is 5 times more transmissible than the dreaded Delta variant which was responsible for the 2nd wave.
- The take on vaccine is that it is necessary to protect everyone as we still do not have much clue as to the severity, short term and long term complications.
As the government has now launched a vaccination programme for children, it has become essential for parents to know more about the Covid-19 vaccines before they can let their child take the shot.
Why Is Covid Vaccine Crucial For Teens Aged 15 – 18 Years?
India has a large population of children and many of them are currently unvaccinated. As children between the ages of 15 and 18 are more vulnerable to the infection than the younger ones, therefore leaving them unvaccinated can allow the virus to survive and thrive in. Hence, vaccinating this segment of the population currently is a move closer towards reducing the accessible area for the virus.
As this age group is also known to be more outgoing when the lockdown restrictions are lifted completely, this can make them spreaders of the virus especially to their younger siblings at home who are still not eligible for a vaccine. This is also the crowd that will be moving to all parts of the world for higher education. They will be potentially exposing themselves to all possible variants of the Covid-19 virus, in all parts of the world. Hence it is essential to protect them.
Which Covid Vaccines Are Available For Teens In India?
As of today, India has approved five vaccines for teens between the ages of 15-18.
- Covaxin by Bharat Biotech
- ZyCoV-D by Zydus Cadila
- Covovax by Serum Institute
- RBD by Biological E
- AD26. COV2. S by Johnson & Johnson
However, currently, only Covaxin is administered for teens. It has even been approved for emergency use in children between the ages of 12 and 18. The others are yet to be launched in India.
Administering The Covid-19 Vaccine For Teens
The vaccine configuration is the same for teens and adults. However, as of now, only Covaxin is administered for the teens. To prevent any mix up of vaccines, the government has organised separate centres for administering the vaccines for teenagers. When there are no other vaccines in the vicinity, the chances of the wrong vaccine to a child is completely removed.
Children between the ages of 15 and 18 in India are eligible for the Covid-19 vaccination since 3rd January 2022. Children born in 2007 or earlier are eligible for their Covaxin vaccine.
They can register ahead on the CoWIN app or even walk in to the nearest centre. They can get their vaccination after providing the required ID proof. Covaxin is approved for a teen between 15 and 18 years of age.
When can they take the second dose?
Children are advised to take their second dose of the vaccine 20 days after the first dose. The manufacturer will submit an analysis report every 15 days. As of now, no booster shots are required for teens.
How to prepare your teenager for Covid-19 vaccination?
Here are a few tips to help prepare your teenager to get the vaccine:
- Listen to them and encourage them to share their true feelings or opinions about the vaccine. Address their fear and acknowledge it is fair to be scared as no one knows if the vaccine is going to work in the long term or have severe effects
- Share your experience of getting the vaccine and reassure them that they will be OK, just like you and all other family members around them.
- Let them talk to a doctor before they go in for a vaccine. Hearing reassurances from the expert’s mouth can be a big help.
- Ensure they eat well and get some good sleep on the day before getting the vaccine
- Go with them to get the vaccine. Yes, they are almost adults, but they are still a child who could be terrified like many adults around the world.
- Stay in the vaccination site for 15 minutes after the injection. Do not be in a rush to leave. Immediate reactions can be monitored this way.
- In case of side effects report to the medical professional available at the vaccination camp, or your doctor, immediately
- Ensure they wear their mask and maintain social distance at all times, when they go for the vaccination
How Does The Covid Vaccine Work For Teens?
It works for teens just as it works for adults. The response in children has been better than the response in adults. While the vaccine does not guarantee to prevent infection, it is expected to reduce the chances to a great extent. Vaccinated people are also expected to recover from a Covid infection, much faster than those who are not vaccinated.
Is The Covid Vaccine Effective Against Omicron And Other Variants (For Teens)
The approved vaccines are effective against other variants of the Covid-19 virus but not the Omicron variant. WHO has declared the current vaccines may not be efficient enough to protect people including teens from getting infected with the Omicron variant. The vaccine developers will have to update their medicine to fight against Omicron.
However, many professionals believe, by the time the updated vaccines are ready, the Omicron variant might have finished its rounds of infecting the general population. WHO has not made any further declarations for the lack of sufficient research and data.
In India, since the vaccination for children between the ages of 15 and 18 started around the same time the Omicron variant started doing the rounds, it is not yet feasible to declare if the vaccine is protecting the teenagers from this specific variant or not.
Is The Covid Vaccine Safe For Teens? Are there any Side Effects Of Covid Vaccine Among Teenagers?
Yes, they are. Enough research has gone into this before the vaccines were opened up for young adults. Many countries started vaccinating their teenagers many months ago. The US has even approved vaccinations for its 12 to 15-year-old population. EU has approved vaccinations for its 5 to 18-year-old population.
However, professionals are advising recently infected children and those with other health complications to get approval from concerned doctors before getting the shot. A complete medical history has to be provided for a doctor to decide if the teen can go ahead and get the vaccine.
Even teenagers on Immunosuppressants for various illnesses may not be recommended for the vaccine as it may not be effective amidst these medications. It is important to check with a child specialist in Bangalore. If they are not sure, get all the medical records together and meet a doctor handling COvid-19 cases or vaccines.
There have been no side effects reported by teens so far. However, the general side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine that can be expected are fever and fatigue. If at all any, these side effects will be very mild and are expected to subside on their own on a day or two. The vaccine manufacturer recommends waiting it out and consulting a doctor only if the symptoms are severe.
Precautions To Take For The Vaccine
Though the Covid-19 vaccine has been quite a success among adults of various age groups, all over the world; you can never let your guard down. When your child is about to get their Covid-19 vaccination, you need to take the following precautions –
- If your teenager has been infected with the Covid-19 virus in recent times, let them wait for a good three weeks until after their recovery. Check with the doctor who took care of your child and only then give them the vaccine.
- If your child is on any medications for other illnesses, especially chronic or autoimmune diseases, it is important to get approval from the attending doctor.
- DO NOT give them paracetamol or pain killers if they complain of body aches or a fever. This was a suggestion followed for adults who were administered other vaccines. On the first day of the vaccination drive, it was reported that many teens were advised to take paracetamol (3 doses of 500mg each) to help them recover after the vaccine.
- However, the vaccine manufacturer has advised against this and has asked parents to refrain from giving the children any medications.
Covid-19 has brought the entire world to a near halt. It has taken more lives and affected many more in this short period. It is important to be responsible citizens and teach the same to the children. Getting the vaccine can only help your teen, despite side effects.
Vaccination does not make your teen completely immune to the disease. Just like in adults, it only helps strengthen the immune system against the infamous COVID-19 and reduce the chances of infection to a great extent. It reduces the severity of the infection if your child were to get infected.