Experts today are saying teenagers receiving the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine must get the second jab. This is because a single dose is insufficient to ensure protection against COVID-19 and its variants, most especially the highly contagious Delta variant. Consultant pediatrician Datuk Dr. Amar- Singh HSS agreed one dose simply does not offer the maximum protection needed against the deadly virus. Two doses however, offer up to 90% protection. He explained to the News Straits Times, it's understandable on the other hand, for parents to grow cautious and hesitant in vaccinating their little ones given the reported side effects in children. Recently, there were reports of boys facing an increased risk of myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle after their second dose. There was also a growing probability in girls. He said, "I think that is why people are behaving this way. People are more well-read about COVID-19 than any other subject at this time. But they should not take it for granted and live with the ideology that they will never get infected." Consultant paediatrician Dr Anthony James Mansul said while he empathised with parents' dilemma on vaccination due to reports of side effects, one had little choice but to get the shot as all sectors were reopening. He said the pandemic shows no signs of disappearing and hopes for parents to consider this important factor. Take into consideration as well, the cases abroad involving rapid rises of infections among children and teenagers. Preparation In Light of Schools Reopening "Being infected with COVID-19 is worse. We are looking at something between 40 and 60 per cent of protection for one dose and up to 80 and 90 per cent with the second dose. That is a big difference." - Consultant Pediatrician, Datuk Dr. Amar-Singh HSS Dr. Amar mentioned as schools reopen, there are high probabilities for the Delta variant to spread\u2014a case exhibited in many countries like Norway and the United States. These countries saw a massive spike in cases, similar to what the United Kingdom is also currently facing\u2014all due to school-related spread. So, parents truly need to be prepared. Dr. Amar is one of many experts who insist we cannot hide our children away forever. He said, "Unvaccinated, you may get away with nothing or get a nasty infection, while some children will die." To date, more than 100 children have died from COVID-19, 40% of which were teenagers. Dr. Amar said that it is therefore crucial for teenagers be made aware of the benefits that come with the vaccine. They also ought to be informed of the risks of staying unvaccinated as well. It is up to the parents, he said, to discuss these vital matters with their children. The Importance of Staying Informed According to Dr. Amar, anyone over the age of 12 should have good sense to stay vaccinated. We must involve them in any discussions related to getting vaccinated. Ultimately though, it's the parents who will make the decision. This is why he says COVID-19 vaccination data must be accessible to the public. He cited the recent case of a 15-year old boy who died a day after receiving his second dose. This was the case that happened in SMK Gunung Rapat vaccination centre, Perak last 23rd of October. The student fell unconscious the next morning after experiencing breathing difficulties. He died at 10:04 am at a private hospital. The reality is that an autopsy identified spontaneous bronchospasm. This is the kind of data Dr. Amar said may shed some clarity to the public. "If it is vaccine-related (death), then we should admit it. We should never hide it. But they must be aware as schools are reopening," he said. He quoted a data which showed 1 in 100 of those infected with the Delta variant at schools would end up hospitalised, while the death rate was probably 1 in 4000. Dr. Anthony also said many out there are still unaware of the fewer treatment options for children with COVID-19, than adults. He explained, children have a tendency to develop multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), which is quite unique to them. And, they are now beginning to see some cases in Kuala Lumpur. "Yes, vaccination can cause myocarditis, but it is mild and self-limiting. However, if you are infected with COVID-19, the risk of getting myocarditis is higher, especially in children, and can be devastating." - Consultant paediatrician, Dr Anthony James Mansul. He said it's not just myocarditis that is to be concerned about. Instead, the MIS-C is what worries everyone as it causes serious damage to a child's body. The truth is, he said, if we compared that to a vaccinated person, the risk of experiencing any side effects at all from the vaccine is quite low. The risk of getting myocarditis post-vaccine especially, is quite rare. He exemplified the case of the United States which reported 50 per million cases to experience these symptoms, most of which were mild and self-limiting. As we balance children's suffering from COVID-19 as opposed to complications from the vaccine, it definitely makes sense for the government to have proper vaccination for children. Dr. Anthony said it was therefore important for children to receive two doses of the vaccine. This is because the unvaccinated can very easily infect others, especially the elderlies with waning immunity. The New Reality Experts share unanimous agreement on the importance of getting children vaccinated. Dr. Anthony for one, explained they may be a group of COVID-19 spreaders with high probability to transmit the virus to the elderly resulting in yet another new deadly cycle. Public Health Physicians Association president Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar said parents must ensure their children's vacciantion. "Parents should care for their children and make an effort to ensure that they receive the shots before the government makes it mandatory. Allowing them to miss the second appointment should not happen as it is inadequate to shield them from the virus." - President of Public Health Physicians Association, Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar The issue of parents refusing the COVID-19 vaccines for their children must be addressed. The Education Ministry, schools and parent-teacher associations must intensify vaccination efforts today. One way is to set up more vaccination centres, he urged. The new reality is one that is endemic. Life is returning to normalcy with the reopening of all sectors but the important truth to take note is that the deadly virus still remains. So stay informed and stay vaccinated! For more updates, insightful reads and fun recipes, stay tuned to Motherhood Story!