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  • My Baby Is Scheduled For Vaccination During Quarantine. What Are My Options?

    Don't worry about missing doses during quarantine. Your child can still catch up on vaccines.
    by Kitty Elicay .
My Baby Is Scheduled For Vaccination During Quarantine. What Are My Options?
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  • Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s become more important for everyone in the family to boost their immune system to fight off the virus. Vaccines have been proven effective in shielding children from diseases that can cause harmful complications, but because many health facilities have become overwhelmed with suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases, they are left with no choice but to forego, delay, or reschedule basic services such as immunization.

    According to recommendations provided by the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) and Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP), immunization should not be neglected during the pandemic. “Disruption in the provision of immunization services increases the number of susceptible individuals in the community. This can lead to outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases (VPD) as well as VPD-related deaths and further burden the already exhausted healthcare resources due to the rise in COVID-19 cases,” according to a statement released by both organizations.

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    Both the PPS and PIDSP emphasize that the safety of health providers as well as their patients is of utmost importance. Apart from following guidelines to prevent COVID-19 transmission during vaccination visits, health providers are encouraged to direct patients to clinics and facilities where no COVID-19 or PUI admissions are entertained.

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    In case COVID-19 response measures in the health facility does not allow safe implementation of vaccination and no alternative location is feasible, PPS and PIDSP says health providers may “consider delaying vaccination,” and “develop an action plan for tailor-made catch up immunization” for children who have missed their vaccine doses.

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    Preparing for vaccination

    It is important that you consult with your pediatrician regarding your child’s immunization schedule. If she allows you a visit, here are important guidelines to follow for both parents and doctor as recommended by PPS and PIDSP:

    1. Ensure that the child is well and is not suffering from the following symptoms:

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    • Fever, cough, colds, diarrhea, and influenza-like illness
    • Has had no significant exposure to a positive or suspected COVID-19 case in the last 14 days
    • Does not reside in an area with localized transmission or local community under enhanced quarantine
    • Has no absolute contraindications to vaccination.

    2. Limit the child’s companion to one or two caregivers. Ensure that they do not exhibit COVID-19 symptoms

    3. Pediatrician and assistants must also be cleared from COVID-19 symptoms before attending to the patient

    4. Follow the recommended schedule and administration of vaccines included in the Childhood Immunization Schedule. (Read the latest schedule here.)

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    5. Prioritize completion of primarily immunization series and vaccines that treat epidemic-prone diseases like:

    • Measles
    • Polio
    • Diphtheria
    • Influenza

    Note that pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines are also highly recommended.

    6. Schedule patient visits to minimize crowding and exposure in the clinic.

    7. Consider triaging through pre-clinic calls, so baby consults can be scheduled separately from sick consults.

    8. Doctors are advised to emphasize the importance of keeping the child’s vaccination up to date and to remind parents about the importance of frequent handwashing, cough etiquette, and social distancing.

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    9. For clinics, strict infection control measures should be applied.

    10. ldeally, the location for vaccination must be far from heavy foot traffic like emergency rooms and triage areas.

    The PPS and PIDSP also reiterates that in the case of potential exposure to rabies or tetanus, vaccination should not be delayed. After providing the appropriate vaccine, patients are advised to follow the routine recommended schedule.

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    I am afraid to go out of the house because of the quarantine. Can I delay my child’s vaccination?

    Because of the enhanced community quarantine, individuals are encouraged to come to the hospital only for emergencies. Some pediatricians like Dr. Faith Buenaventura-Alcazaren,a pediatric specialist at Stratum Health Partners in Centuria Medical Makati, also advise catch-up immunization following guidelines from the PPS and PIDSP.

    “We also need to limit going out. PIDSP recommends catch-up immunization naman,” Dr. Buenaventura-Alcazaren tells SmartParenting.com.ph. “I told my patients we will actively catch up with immunizations once lockdown is lifted. I’m preparing to setup my other clinic on a strict booking policy and I will require only one guardian per patient. The goal is to minimize interaction between patients.”

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    Your child does not have to start over when he or she has missed a dose in a series, according to Dr. Rodaliza Gumboc, a pediatrician at the National Children’s Hospital, in a previous Smart Parenting article.

    According to the PPS and PIDSP guidelines, “should the risk of current circumstances outweigh the benefits of immunization, temporarily delaying vaccination services may be considered, and a catch up plan put in place.”

    For vaccines that are not given on time, the due dose should be given at the earliest scheduled visit. “It is not necessary to restart the series or add doses of any vaccine due to extended interval between doses,” reiterates the two organizations.

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    Combination vaccines are recommended when appropriate to optimize “the opportunity to provide protection to the child.” At the same time, simultaneous administration of all vaccines that is appropriate for the child’s age is allowed. This “increases the probability that a child will be fully immunized at the appropriate age” and will lessen the number of times that the child has to go to the clinic. However, parents should always ask their pediatrician’s advice for this.

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    Both parents and physicians must observe the children after giving the vaccines. “All adverse reactions should be noted and addressed timely and appropriately (especially anaphylactic reactions),” according to PPS and PIDSP. They add that because of COVID-19, there may be an “increased risk of coincidental” adverse effects post-vaccination.

    Having your child immunized is important for their health. When in doubt, always ask your pediatrician or your local health center for options. There are some who offer home visits, or drive-thru immunizations, like Dr. Maria Cristina Ignacio-Alberto, who runs her own clinic in Cavite. (Read her story here.) However, she reiterates, “Immunization has to continue without sacrificing safety.

    While you’re staying at home, Dr. Buenaventura-Alcazaren recommends boosting your family’s immunity in preparation for the lifting of the quarantine. “Eat nutritious balanced meals, breastfeed [your] infants, and exercise!” she says.

    Still worried about missed vaccinations? Click here for the things you can do when it happens.

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