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Is it Safe to Immunize Amidst Pandemic?

By Isny Dewi R

29 July 2020

WHO continues to appeal to people to ensure that the immunization program continues although currently world is now facing COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 pandemic also had an impact on immunization service. Compiled from AFP, Director General of WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the first four months of 2020 the world experienced a substantial reduction in diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough vaccinations. The cause is people's concern about the transmission of the coronavirus if they go outside the house, also because of economic difficulties as an impact of the pandemic.
However, WHO continues to appeal to people around the world to ensure that the immunization program continues. "The suffering and avoidable deaths caused by children who have lost routine immunizations can be far greater than COVID-19 itself," Tedros said, quoted from WHO website (15/7).
Quoted from Unicef ​​website, from 20-29 April 2020, there were 5,329 of 9,993 public health centers participating in online survey with 89 percent completion rate, covering 388 of 540 districts and cities, in 34 provinces in Indonesia.
The survey results showing that nearly 84 percent of health facilities reported that immunization services experienced significant disruptions due to the pandemic and government policies to maintain social distancing. Although there are many public health centers that continue to provide immunization services, not a few also experience disruption or even stop immunization services.
Launch, a specialist obstetrics and gynecology consultant at Advent Bandung Hospital, dr. Wawang Setiawan Sukarya, Sp.OG(K), MARS, MH.Kes said, although the world is now facing COVID-19 pandemic, according to him immunization remains important.
"That's right, (kids) still have to immunize," he said to, on Friday (17/07). dr. Wawang explained that immunization remains safe as long as people adhered to health protocols. Because if the child does not get immunized, then the child will not have immunity against related diseases.
He gave an example, if the child does not get polio immunization, then the child does not have immunity against polio. Likewise in measles and other immunizations. Immunization, according to dr. Wawang, there are many types ranging from measles, chickenpox, Hepatitis BHib, BCG, DTP, flu, MMR, etc. Some are given intravenously or injected, some are administered orally.
Then how do we keep our immunization in the middle of a pandemic safe? dr. Wawang explained, both parents and immunization workers need to comply with health protocols. First, according to him, officers and parents must be in good health. Officers need to be tested for COVID-19. Usually the test is held by the relevant agency.
In addition, officers must wash their hands before giving the vaccine and wearing a mask. It is recommended to use an additional face shield. dr. Wawang said, it is necessary to pay attention to aseptic and antiseptic actions if immunization is given by injection.
"Officers who are positive COVID-19 may not give immunizations even without symptoms," he explained. Meanwhile, for parents of children, according to him should also be tested, because it can spread to anyone, including children. Especially if you live in the red zone of COVID-19.
Then what if you have passed the immunization period? Can we still immunize? "Yes, we can. Scheduling is for immunization, so don't forget and complete it. But if you have missed it and you have not yet consulted your doctor for immunization, rather than getting sick," said Dr. Wawang.

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