With the expected resumption of regular classes this November, health professionals urged parents to have their children vaccinated against COVID-19.
In a virtual webinar on Wednesday, the Philippine Heart Association (PHA) underscored the importance of immunization- especially for immunocompromised children, saying the students might face higher exposure to viral diseases during the return of in-person classes.
“Some parents may feel afraid of COVID vaccinations. I urge you not to be afraid now as we are moving forward from the pandemic. The parent, child, and doctor must work together to cross over this fear through vaccinations and open communication. Everybody is encouraged to take the COVID vaccine and other vaccines for viral diseases,” pediatric cardiologist Dr. Juliet Balderas said.
“We cannot force them to take the vaccine, because it is their right to be vaccinated as much as it is their right to refuse. We respect that so far, but it may help schools to require health declaration forms for the students daily,” she added.
The Department of Education published a memorandum last month stating that vaccinations will remain non-compulsory among students as they return to in-person classes.
With around 28 million children due to return to in-person learning by November, the PHA recognized that the decision regarding immunization lay in the hands of parents all over the country.
Pediatric cardiologist Dr. Cathleen Faye Lu assured the public that children with congenital heart diseases are safe to get injected with the COVID-19 vaccine. She encouraged the parents to get their children vaccinated, specifically those with unrepaired heart diseases since they have a higher risk of experiencing severe COVID infection. Gabriellea Parino, Chelsea Din
“In general, the medicine that we give to our patients with congenital heart disease has no known interaction with the vaccines, so it’s the regular pediatrics vaccines, and it includes the COVID-19 vaccination, the medicine, and COVID-19 vaccine will have no bad effects on the patient,” Lu stated.
Balderas also emphasized the importance of other preventions such as flu and chickenpox vaccines.
She said face-to-face classes are good for the mental health of the children, giving them a chance to physically interact with their playmates rather than engaging in a passive activity like playing videotapes.
Balderas also urged parents to introduce jump-roping and dancing to their children for limited physical exercise.
Doctors have identified ventricular septal defect (VSD) as the most common type of heart disease among children in the country. With the ongoing pandemic, the PHA intends to focus on the safety of children as they resume in-person academic routines.
“Our main concern is that our children will be as safe back in school as they are at home,” Dr. Uy stressed.
The prevalence level of children with heart disease have risen to 6 to 10 children per day, with obesity becoming a contributing factor. The cardiology experts urged parents to consult doctors upon spotting early signs of heart disease in children, especially those with comorbidities. Gabriellea Parino, Chelsea Din