With no COVID-19 vaccine available for kids yet, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Thursday said it is hard to beat the pandemic without vaccinating children.
"We won't be able to defeat Covid-19 until children are vaccinated," DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan said in a statement.
As per Dr Nisar, the "most realistic way to achieve herd immunity is through wide-scale vaccination".
"Herd immunity is achieved when most of the population in a community is immune to the disease so that the virus can no longer spread easily from person to person," he explained.
He said that in order to achieve herd immunity against the pandemic, 80-90 percent people need to be vaccinated.
The goal, he said, "is unlikely to be achieved if children, who constitute a huge proportion of the population, are not vaccinated."
The DAK President said that there are around 4.8 million kids in Jammu and Kashmir who cannot be vaccinated.
"And, if we leave a large number of the population unimmunized, we will not be able to break the chain of infection and pandemic will linger on," he warned.
He further said that COVID-19 vaccine is required for children to return to classrooms and is important for ensuring safe learning environment in schools.
Dr Nisar said that children "can get infected at school and spread the virus to parents and grandparents at home who are more likely to develop severe disease".
"Children can also transmit the virus to teachers and other staff at school," he said.
Although COVID-19 infections mostly constitute adults, "children are certainly not immune," the DAK President said.
He said "several hundreds have died of respiratory failure or an inflammatory syndrome" even though most children who get COVID-19 infection develop only mild illness,
"It is unjust to allow kids to take on great burdens during the pandemic but not give them the opportunity to benefit from a vaccine," said Dr Nisar.
He said a pediatric vaccine would not only help children, but it will be the basis of eventually eliminating Covid-19 in our population.
"While the trials of COVID-19 vaccine for children have started, kids may have to wait for few more months before they will be included in vaccination schedules," he said.