COVID-19, vaccination, and young children
On July 24, Dr Raj Khillan joined IndianCare President and founder of Word Palette Saleha Singh, on her webcast Chai Chat and Community to discuss COVID-19 in young children.
Dr Khillan discussed the different ways in which COVID-19 presents in children, the importance of vaccination, and considerations for young children experiencing COVID.
COVID19 vaccinations are important for children
Dr Raj Khillan emphasised that vaccinating children for COVID-19 should be a high priority for parents, especially as vaccines protect the children from severity of symptoms and shield communities around them.
The mild or even asymptomatic nature of COVID-19 in children could increase the risk of community transmission if children continue to go about their daily activities.
“Kids’ symptoms can be very deceptive; maybe mild sniffles or a sore throat, so they continue infecting others around them, this effectively increases risk of transmission,” said Dr. Khillan.
He further emphasised that vaccination for the entire family was important, noting that while Australia’s double vaccination rate was high, those eligible for 3rd and 4th vaccine doses should book their appointments with pharmacists or GPs.
Dr Khillan explained that vaccine hesitancy is a result of lack of knowledge, a lack of cultural sensitivity and a language gap, clearly highlighting the importance of culturally appropriate and in-language COVID-19 messaging.,
Children’s nutrition and COVID-19
Nutrition is an underrated, but crucial element to COVID-19 recovery.
Dr Khillan said the urge to overfeed children or encourage them to eat more to get better could be counterintuitive.
“Don’t force large meals on a child, you can give children multiple small meals to deliver nutrition without overwhelming them with large servings if they are feeling unwell.”
He suggested food such as dahi chawal (yoghurt and rice), doodh chawal (milk and rice), ice-cream and smoothies, which were easy to eat and could have a soothing effect for sore throats. He emphasised the importance of drinking fluids and water to stay hydrated.
Long COVID in children
Dr Khillan shared insight into the effects of long COVID on children, noting that COVID-19 could exacerbate pre-existing issues.
He advised parents to be vigilant and watch out for symptoms such as persistent fatigue and headaches.
Long COVID is characterised by a host of COVID-19 symptoms that continue for over a month after infection.
Children who are anxious, have been struggling in school or have had ongoing migraines or similar issues can be vulnerable to Long COVID.
Children experiencing symptoms of long COVID need to be supported to minimise long-term impacts on mental and physical wellbeing.
Consulting your GP is advised.
Children get restless when cooped up inside due to illness, keep them engaged, download innovative COVID-19 related colouring sheets, games and quiz for 5-11 year old children here.
For the full discussion with Dr. Raj Khillan, click here.