Q&A : COVID-19 and routine vaccinations
How to safely get routine vaccinations for your child during the COVID-19 pandemic
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has brought with it fear and uncertainty. Many parents are concerned about routine childhood vaccinations during the pandemic. To answer some of your questions we spoke with UNICEF Sudan Immunization Health Specialist Dr. Shaza Mohieeldin Yousif Ahmed to share some important information that every parent should know.
Should my child still get routine vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic?
SA: While COVID-19 is disrupting our daily lives, the short answer is yes, do try to get your child vaccinated where services are available. It is especially important that children under the age of two keep their vaccinations up to date because they protect them from serious diseases such as poliomyelitis, measles and diphtheria.
How do vaccines work?
SA: Vaccines help train our immune system to fight infections by introducing an inactivated or dead form of a germ (bacteria or virus) into the body. These germs cannot make us sick. However, it triggers our body’s immune system to produce defences called antibodies, which prepare the body to fight the disease. This means that if your child ever contracts the germ their body’s immune system will recognize it and fight it so that they will not be sick.
Are routine vaccination services available right now during the lockdown in Sudan?
SA: Yes, vaccination services are available all over Sudan currently. Essential services, which include health services, are available for limited hours. Please check with your locality to find out more. In Khartoum State during the lockdown period primary healthcare (PHC) services including vaccination are available in more than 50 specific health facilities. You can find the nearest PHC to you by contacting the health authorities in your respective locality.
I am afraid to take my child to the health center because of COVID-19, what should I do?
SA: The best thing to do is:
- First, make sure when will be the date of the next vaccination session in the nearest health facility to you.
- On the day of vaccination try to keep a distance of 1 metre from other people.
- Take with you alcohol-based hand sanitizer and use it frequently; if you don’t have any try to wash hands with water and soap for 40 seconds whenever possible.
- Do not touch your mouth, eyes and nose.
- If your child has an autoimmune disease such as cancer and/or is taking immunosuppressive medication that makes him/her more at risk consult a pediatrician before you take your child to a vaccination appointment.