FLASH BACK - Scores of people, including children, sign up for their first shot of the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines at SAPA, San Fernando, in September 2021.

With the recently reported death of a child due to COVID-19, parents are being advised to take all the necessary precautions to protect their children, including vaccination.

Speaking on CNC3’s “The Morning Brew” today, Senior Emergency Paediatric Specialist, Dr Joanne Paul, observed that 95 per cent of those who are dying from COVID-19 in this country are those who have not been vaccinated at all, and reiterated the importance of the two-week period after vaccination to build one’s immunity to the virus.

Dr Paul said a holistic approach is needed to combat the virus in adults, as well as children, namely, ensuring one is as healthy as possible even though one may have taken the vaccine. She explains:

“There is a public health, there is vaccine health, and there is your immune health and physical health.  You and your child also must be physically better.  You can’t say ‘I’m going to take the vaccine and it is going to protect me, and if it doesn’t protect me, they are all wrong’… But I am going to eat five doubles today and KFC and Royal Castle and whatever’.”

She added: “You have to also say, ‘I am using this as an additional feature to protect me, but I am also going to be exercising, praying, and meditating, and being mindful, managing my stress and mental health, and whatever it takes to improve my immune health’.  I think people tend to forget about those other layers of protection.” 

Dr Paul revealed that majority of children presenting with severe COVID-19 symptoms are those with other underlying health conditions.

“We have found with children who have been sick in terms of going to the COVID facilities, one of the high comorbidities has been obesity.  Diabetes to a lesser extent, but obesity has been significant,” she reported, “also congenital heart disease.”

“So parents, if you are talking about protection for your child, look at it holistically,” she urges.  “You want to make sure you have your child vaccinated if they are above 11 years old. But also look at their physical health.  Make sure you are doing everything for them, and not just for them but the entire family.  You want to protect your entire family.”

But Dr Paul says the main morbidity that has been observed in children is heart ailments.

“Unfortunately, when they come in, they usually come in with not so much respiratory symptoms like adults do.  They might have GI or gastro-intestinal issues.  They might have diarrhoea.  You might find they have cognitive issues—their brain may not be working as well.  Significantly, however, the thing that really affects them in terms of sudden death is heart issues,” she notes.

“What we have found is that the ones who have not really done that well as the ones who have had different heart rhythms that have gone wonky because their heart is now inflamed,” she points out.  “The same myocarditis we’ve heard about, COVID-19 causes that.”

The Senior Emergency Paediatric Specialist notes that recent data has shown that vaccination against COVID-19 in the adolescent population has led to a reduction in myocarditis.

She advises parents: “If you find that your child’s heart rate is a bit too slow or too high, check that out.  If you find your child becoming lethargic, look out for that.  If you notice that things aren’t quite right, make sure and bring them to a health facility to be reviewed.”

She says it is important to listen to the concerns and fears parents may have on the issues and furnish them with as much as information as possible so they can make the best choice for their children.  She is encouraging them to get their information from their health care professionals.