Expert recommends preferential COVID-19 vaccination for SCD patients under 16

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 Dr. Patrick Obinna, an hematologist, based in Abuja, has suggested that Nigerians with Sickle Cell Disease(SCD), who are below 16 years old, should be eligible for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination.

Obina in an interview with News Agency Of Nigeria(NAN) on Friday, in Abuja said that SCD patients were vulnerable to severe COVID-19.

NAN, reports that SCD is a collective name for a set of inherited chronic conditions.

It covers a spectrum, from milder to severe forms of SCD but with support, people with SCD can have a good quality of life.

SCD is associated with episodes of severe pain called sickle cell painful crises.

The expert said that the impact of COVID-19 on the routine management of SCD patients in the country had been substantial and complex.

He added that clinicians now needed to ensure that patients received appropriate care for SCD in balance with the challenges posed by the pandemic.

“News is evolving rapidly about COVID-19 and its vaccines. Early results from the COVID-19 vaccine trials are very promising, although the true benefits and risks will not be known until a larger number of people receive the vaccine.

“ I am surprised that SCD patients were not listed as one of the populations vulnerable to severe COVID-19, to be vaccinated immediately in the country.

“Sickle cell disease raises the risk for serious problems with COVID-19, especially when compared to the same age in the general population,” he said.

According to him, Nigerians with health condition such as kidney failure, sickle cell anaemia or type 2 diabetes should be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in the country and should be contacted for the vaccine.

Obinna recommended that, based on current information across the globe, people with sickle cell disease should receive COVID-19 vaccination immediately.

“I have patients that have been held up in their homes since the beginning of this pandemic.

“They are afraid to go out because they know that if they were to get COVID, their chance of being hospitalised, getting really sick or dying is higher than the average population.

“Sickle cell disease is a genetic blood disorder that causes red blood cells to be misshaped. The red blood cells are not able to carry oxygen well, which affects the whole body.

“The benefits of vaccination outweighs the risks for people with SCD. Vaccination is worthwhile compared to the risks of having COVID-19 disease in people with SCD,” he advised.

He advised that people with SDC should consult with their doctors or health care providers about whether their personal medical condition causes an exception to this general recommendation.

He stressed that the fact that SCD affects the immune system should not cause a safety problem for COVID-19 vaccines.

Obinna urged SDC patients, who have receive their jabs, and not to relax their precautions right after getting the vaccine.

“They might still get infected in the few weeks following vaccination. You could still give infection to those around you.

“Continue to wear a mask covering your nose and mouth. Wash your hands often. Maintain physical distance. Avoid crowds, and avoid people who are ill,” he advised. (NAN)