Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) today said that vaccinating children against Covid-19 holds the key to reach herd immunity.
“We cannot achieve herd immunity until children are vaccinated,” said DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan in a statement issued here.
He said herd immunity is achieved when most of the population in a community is immune to the disease so that the virus no longer spreads easily from person to person.
Dr Hassan said that earlier during the pandemic, it was estimated that around 70 percent of people would need to be vaccinated to reach the threshold at which the virus would not freely circulate.
But the spread of more infectious Delta variant has pushed the threshold for herd immunity to well over 80 percent and potentially approaching 90 percent, he said, adding that the herd immunity is unlikely to be achieved if children who constitute a significant proportion of the population are unvaccinated.
The DAK president said there are around 4.8 million children in Jammu and Kashmir, which represent 38.4 percent of the total population of 1.25 crore.
“Covid-19 pandemic cannot be curbed until children are vaccinated,” he stressed. “While children appear to face less danger of severe illness or death from Covid, they can still spread the virus. If we leave children unvaccinated, we will continue to have fresh waves and the pandemic will linger on.”
Dr Nisar said Covid-19 vaccine is required for children to return to classrooms and is important for ensuring a safe learning environment in schools.
“Vaccinating children is crucial to avert third Covid wave which is predicted to happen sometime in the fall of this year and is expected to affect kids the most,” he said.
India has approved its first indigenous pediatric vaccine from Zydus Cadila for 12 years of age and above. While the trials for younger kids are on, they might have to wait for sometime before they will be included in the vaccination schedule.