MANILA, Philippines — Parents shouldn’t make doctors and injections a bogeyman to scare or threaten misbehaving children, a pediatric infectious disease expert said Tuesday.
According to Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, chief of the section of infectious and tropical diseases of the department of pediatrics at the University of the Philippines and also a member of the technical advisory group of the department of health, parents play an important role in the education of their children about the importance of vaccines.
But “parents usually threaten their children with injections or take them to the doctor whenever they get naughty or misbehave,” Ong-Lim told an online media briefing. “We really don’t want to do that.”
She conceded that going to a doctor to get injected was unavoidable “when you have an accident or get bitten by an animal”, and that fear of needles was “something that needs to be acknowledged” even in the adults.
Still, parents shouldn’t threaten their children with that prospect if they want to reinforce positive “health-seeking behavior,” she said.
Loot Bags, etc.
Many of the children who got bitten on Monday, the first day of pediatric vaccination for minors ages 5 to 11, received loot bags and other treats at party-themed centers.
At the Manila Zoo, hundreds of children and their parents or guardians explored the newly renovated facility after receiving their bites. They were given ice cream, packets of candy, paracetamol and vitamin C.
At the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan City, magicians, clowns and cosplayers were on hand to entertain the kids.
But Ong-Lim said it was hard to say whether fear of needles or injections could be alleviated with treats or creatively decorated vaccination sites.
She urged parents and guardians to “prepare children so that when they arrive at the vaccination center their fear becomes more manageable”.
She also said the reason for the hit should be “well explained”.
Ong-Lim said fear of injections in children “stays with them until they grow into adults” and “actually affects a person’s health-seeking behavior.”
“We see a lot of [adults] who avoid being shot. They say they don’t want to get vaccinated because they’re scared. Imagine, they’ve had that kind of fear since they were kids,” she said.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said 9,784 children aged 5 to 11 were vaccinated at 32 sites on the first day of the rollout.
Currently, there are 43 pediatric vaccination sites.
“The turnout was good. Vaccination sites, officials, local governments, the private sector have prepared really well. All the gadgets including party themed vaccination sites, balloons… All of this was done to make the kids feel comfortable, not to be scared, and it worked well worked,” Vergeire said.
She said ‘one measure of success’ was parental confidence: ‘Many of them said they trusted the vaccines and were happy that their children were already among those vaccinated and protected. against COVID-19″.
Vergeire said challenges were expected with the expansion of pediatric vaccination, one being how to replicate the setup in pilot areas in other locations with limited resources.
“We will do our best,” she said.
Of those who were inoculated on Monday, one suffered a minor adverse reaction. “An 11-year-old child had rashes on his extremities after receiving the vaccine. He was given anti-allergy medication. He was taken care of on the spot and when the allergy subsided he was sent home,” Vergeire said.
She said the government was seeking to vaccinate 15.5 million children and 500,000 had so far registered in four regions.
At a virtual press conference on Tuesday, pediatric groups and doctors backed the rollout of pediatric vaccination.
Dr. Mary Ann Bunyi, President of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippineswarned that children in close contact with a COVID-positive person could put them at risk for multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.
The syndrome, briefly called MIS-C, is the inflammation of the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs, and is most common in the age group of 5 at the age of 11.
Bunyi said the best way to protect children from MIS-C, apart from other serious consequences of COVID-19, is through vaccination.
She said children of all age groups could become seriously ill from the virus. “Besides MIS-C, the spread of COVID-19 has also [impacts] the mental health of children and hinders the resumption of face-to-face lessons because we want to ensure their safety [in schools],” she says.
Many parents are hesitant to have their children vaccinated, fearing serious complications and side effects.
But Dr Joselyn Eusebio, president of the Philippine Pediatric Society, said: “Vaccines are shields, not enemies.
“Like many regulatory agencies around the world, the Philippine Food and Drug Administration has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine for use in this age group,” she said, adding that the product had made the subject to a rigorous and independent review process.
The Philippine Medical Association also supported vaccination of the 5-11 age group and urged parents to discuss their concerns with healthcare providers and medical professionals.
READ: Nearly 10,000 minors aged 5 to 11 bitten on 1st day of vax drive
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