By Abujah Racheal
Dr Patrick Obinna, an Abuja-based hematologist, suggested that Nigerians with sickle cell disease (SCD), under the age of 16, should be eligible for the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination.
Obinna in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency (NAN) on Friday in Abuja said patients with SCD were vulnerable to severe COVID-19.
NAN, reports that SCD is a collective name for a collection of hereditary chronic diseases.
It covers a spectrum from milder to severe forms of sickle cell disease, but with support, people with sickle cell disease can have a good quality of life.
Sickle cell disease is associated with episodes of severe pain called painful sickle cell crises.
The expert said the impact of COVID-19 on the routine management of sickle cell patients in the country has been substantial and complex.
He added that clinicians now need to ensure that patients receive appropriate care for sickle cell disease in balance with the challenges posed by the pandemic.
“News is moving fast on COVID-19 and its vaccines. The first results of the COVID-19 vaccine trials are very promising, although the true benefits and risks will not be known until more people receive the vaccine.
“I am surprised that patients with sickle cell disease have not been listed as one of the populations vulnerable to severe COVID-19, to be vaccinated immediately in the country.
“Sickle cell disease increases the risk of serious problems with COVID-19, especially compared to the same age in the general population,” he said.
Nigerians with health conditions such as kidney failure, sickle cell disease or type 2 diabetes, he said, 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 around the world, people with sickle cell disease receive the COVID-19 vaccination immediately.
“I have patients who have been held at home since the start of this pandemic.
“They are afraid to go out because they know that if they get COVID their chances of being hospitalized, getting really sick or dying are higher than the average person.
“Sickle cell disease is a genetic blood disease that causes red blood cells to deform. Red blood cells are not able to carry oxygen well, which affects the whole body.
“The benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks for people with sickle cell disease. The vaccination is worth it compared to the risks of having COVID-19 disease in people with sickle cell disease, ”he advised.
He advised people with DSC to cconsult with their doctor or health care provider to see if their personal medical condition is an exception to this general recommendation.
He stressed that the fact that SCD affects the immune system should not pose a safety concern for COVID-19 vaccines.
Obinna urged SDC patients, who received their vaccine, not to relax their precautions right after receiving the vaccine.
“They could still be infected within a few weeks of vaccination. You could still infect those around you.
“Continue to wear a mask covering your nose and mouth. Wash your hands often. Maintain physical distance. Avoid crowds and avoid sick people, ”he advised. (NAA)