Dear doctor, my child is 15 years old, has been obese since childhood, his current height – weight is 1m55 – 72kg.
Can my child get the Covid-19 vaccine? (Tran Thi Ngoc, 42 years old, HCMC)
According to a study in the US, people who are overweight or obese are more likely to become seriously ill if infected with Covid-19, accounting for about 30% of all patients hospitalized for Covid-19 in this country. When infected, obese people need to be treated in intensive care units (ICUs), mechanical ventilation or cardiopulmonary interventions (ECMO) and have a high risk of death, especially in people under 65. the age. If they are lucky enough to heal, they are also more likely to have a longer-lasting Covid-19 Syndrome with many persistent symptoms.
Obesity is a complex disease because being overweight is not only associated with more than 200 different chronic diseases and complications (including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, lung disease, blood …) but is also one of the strongest risk factors for increasing mortality from Covid-19 (just below the age factor).
On the other hand, obesity weakens the immune system and creates chronic inflammation; reduced lung capacity and reserve making ventilation (breathing) more difficult; Excess fat can affect the body’s anti-inflammatory functions because hypertrophic adipocytes are dysfunctional in obesity, producing too many cytokines, leading to an increase in macrophages, creating High levels of proinflammatory molecules increase the likelihood of inflammation in the body.
Worldwide, there have been recorded cases of severely obese children with Covid-19 requiring ICU treatment. These cases shared the general status of obesity with Covid-19 infection (with/without underlying medical conditions), hospitalization with lung injury, worsening respiratory failure, and additional Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome associated with Covid-19 in children (MIS-C).
According to an investigation report of the National Institute of Nutrition in September 2021, the obesity rate among children in Ho Chi Minh City has exceeded 50%. In Hanoi, this rate is 41%. Therefore, in the context of the current scarce Covid-19 vaccine, children with obesity, kidney failure, liver failure, cancer, asthma… chances of dying from Covid-19.
Currently, lifestyle and dietary recommendations for obese patients do not yet have strong evidence for the prevention of Covid-19. Therefore, to actively prevent Covid-19, overweight and obese children need to take the following measures:
– Get vaccinated against Covid-19 as soon as possible
– Exercise, be active, even at home
– Proper nutrition and weight control diet
– Treatment of chronic medical diseases (if any)
– Adhere to the principle: wear a mask, keep a distance, do not gather in crowded places and wash your hands often
Children with obesity need to follow their doctor’s recommendations for nutrition and physical activity, as well as social distancing and virus prevention measures. Contact the nearest medical facility if you are worried about your health or feel sick or tired.
BS.CKI. Bach Thi Chinh
Medical Director, VNVC Immunization System