Keeping children safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Published February 6, 2021, 5:03 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

Since COVID-19 vaccines are not yet ready for children, a pediatrician reminded parents to ensure that minimum safety measures recommended by experts are observed at all times to keep them away from the dreaded virus.

A mother carries her daughter while queuing up for the Hatid Tulong Program at Rizal. Memorial Stadium(JANSEN ROMERO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Dr. Leonila Dans of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) underscored the importance of keeping children safe at this time since they are not yet included in the country’s vaccination schedule for COVID-19.

In a webinar entitled, “Who Should Not be Vaccinated for COVID-19?” organized by the by the University of the Philippines (UP) in partnership with the National Telehealth Center on Friday, Feb. 5, Dans said that children cannot be vaccinated for COVID-19 yet because “there is no available vaccine specifically developed” for the the younger age group.

Given this, Dans said that it is ensuring the minimum safety measures for children is much more critical at this time. Wearing face masks for children six years old and above is highly recommended but “not for younger kids or those below 2 years old.”

She noted that “washing hands using soap is better than using hand sanitizers.” If not possible, she advised the use of ethyl than isopropyl alcohol since this is deemed to be “less toxic.”

Since play time remains vital for children’s overall growth, they should be allowed to do so. However, she reminded parents that “play time with children from other households should be limited.”

Despite mobility and other restrictions, Dans stressed the importance of adhering to routine immunizations which will keep children from getting other types of diseases.

More importantly, Dans emphasized on the importance of enhancing parent-child relations. “We’re quarantined, we’re not letting our kids out and it can lead to a lot of mental, physical, and health issues,” she warned.

While children stay at home, parents and adults should focus on role modelling and involving younger kids in family activities. She also underscored the importance of teaching them self-discipline and self-sufficiency skills.

“Also, develop appropriate conversations and be very careful because prolonged home confinement may adversely affect physical and mental health of children,” Dans said.