News

Vaccinating kids begins today

  • LRH to start with children above 12 with chronic diseases
  • A’pura Hospital from tomorrow; islandwide from 27 Sept.

By Buddhika Samaraweera

The Covid-19 vaccination programme for children over 12 years of age who are suffering from chronic diseases is scheduled to commence today (24) from the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children (LRH) in Colombo.

LRH Director Dr. P. Wijesuriya told the media yesterday that other hospitals in the Western Province will start vaccinating children next week.

“Children over the age of 12 with chronic diseases will be given the Covid-19 vaccines at the LRH for the first time tomorrow (25). Thereafter, the vaccines will be given for such children in the hospitals in the Western Province from Monday (27) onwards and then in hospitals countrywide,” he stated yesterday.

He also said that children with chronic diseases can be registered through the following form – https://tinyurl.com/d2xpr7dh – in order to get an appointment to obtain the vaccine. Further, it was mentioned in the LRH website that one needs to bring all the medical records of the child, and that they would in turn be assessed by a consultant paediatrician, before deciding on whether the vaccine would be given or not.

“Therefore, registering for the vaccine does not guarantee that the vaccine will be given,” it read.

The Health Ministry yesterday (23) urged the public to refrain from gathering at hospitals unnecessarily as eligible children would be informed of the date and time they can obtain the vaccines through the clinics which such children currently attend.

Health Ministry Communications Director, Public Health Services Deputy Director General (DDG), and Disaster Preparedness and Response Division Head Dr. Hemantha Herath told The Morning yesterday that hospitals with clinics where children with chronic diseases are attending, have information about them, and that the children would therefore be informed of a date and time when they can obtain the vaccines.

“There is already a system in place to inform such children about the dates on which the clinics they attend will be held, and through that, we will inform them of when they should come to receive the vaccines. Therefore, we urge the people not to gather at hospitals unnecessarily,” he added.

Dr. Herath further said that after completing the necessary facilities to vaccinate such children in all hospitals, they will be able to receive the vaccines under the normal procedure (walk-in procedure at the nearest vaccination centre, including hospitals). “Currently, this only takes place in a few hospitals, but once all the facilities are in place, they can get the vaccines under the normal procedure. Until then, we ask the public to be patient.”

Speaking to the media recently, Production, Supply, and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals State Minister Prof. Channa Jayasumana stated that the US-Germany-made Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is planned to be given to children suffering from chronic diseases as the first stage of the vaccination of children over 12 years of age.

“As the first step of vaccinating children against Covid-19, the vaccination of children suffering from various chronic diseases over the age of 12 years is scheduled to commence at the LRH in Colombo,” he said.

According to him, the Covid-19 vaccines will also be given to children over 12 years of age who are suffering from chronic diseases such as thalassemia (an inherited blood disorder characterised by decreased hemoglobin production) at the Anuradhapura Teaching Hospital tomorrow and added that such children will also be able to receive vaccines from main islandwide hospitals from Monday onwards.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had recently instructed health officials to inoculate children between the ages of 15 and 19 years with the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. National Operations Centre for the Prevention of the Covid-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) Head and Army Commander Gen. Shavendra Silva said that the President had also instructed the officials to inoculate children with special needs above the age of 12 years with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Meanwhile, the Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases (ACCD) has recommended the administration of Covid-19 vaccines to children suffering from chronic diseases.