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How is the second wave affecting children? How are we supposed to take care of the child if the kid shows Covid symptoms? When is the vaccine for children expected?

Till last year, we were seeing only 9-10 per cent of overall cases of Covid-infected children but this year, we have seen a huge burst of paediatric patients getting infected. In fact, even new-borns getting infected. The symptoms in children being presented last year were cold, cough, breathlessness and fever but this time, we are seeing symptoms of diarrhoea, skin rashes, conjunctivitis and other kinds of miscellaneous presentations. 

The RTPCR, at the best, is approximately 67% to 83% sensitive and hence, it is not a foolproof test. Hence, we have to take a combined picture of clinical symptoms, lab values in case it is required and the RTPCR. 

When you see a child with such symptoms the first thing you need to do is isolate the child, get the test done on day 2 or day 3, which is RTPCR, and make sure that the child gets adequate treatment initially just for fever with paracetamol. Consult your local physician and do not start on any antibiotics and other combination drugs at home.

With regard to the vaccine, it is the most important health intervention, which is known to mankind and the only we can arrest the pandemic. The vaccination so far for the pediatric age group have not been licensed in India as yet but the clinical trials have been completed and the mRNA vaccine in the US and Canada are now being approved for below 15 years of age up to 12 and soon, it will be even for a lower age group beyond 6 months of age. 

Dr Sanjeev Bagai, Senior Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist and Paediatric Nephrologist

I have been prescribed by my therapist anti-anxiety medicines. Is it safe to take the pills the day I am vaccinated or after?

It is mostly safe to be administered the Covid  vaccine even when on anxiety drugs as prescribed by the psychiatrist. Still it shall be useful to discuss it with the treating psychiatrist before the vaccination. It is noteworthy that in case of high grade fever, disorientation or drowsiness post the vaccine, alongside the general physician the patient should consult one’s psychiatrist for needful. 

Dr Sameer Malhotra
Director, HOD, Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Max Hospital, Saket and Panchsheel Park New Delhi

I exercise every day to destress myself. Can I do heavy exercises/ go to gym after vaccination?

While a lot of people are doing exercises to keep their mind and body fit during the Covid time, it is advisable that just before the vaccine or soon after it, to not indulge in heavy load exercises. 

Dr Sameer Malhotra
Director, HOD, Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Max Hospital, Saket and Panchsheel Park New Delhi

How safe is the vaccine for cardiac patients since there are reports of instances of blood coagulation post Covid? Also, should a patient with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder take the vaccine?

There have been a few reports of Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis reported in patients post vaccination, but these are rare cases. Hence, it is thoroughly recommended that all patients go in for the vaccine, especially those in the high-risk groups. In fact, data from the UK, US and Israel has shown that there is considerable impact in curtailing the disease with most people being vaccinated in these countries. Answering the second query, yes a person with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is also recommended to take the vaccine. In fact people with COPD, much like people with high BP, diabetes or heart disease are at higher risk of dying from COVID. Hence, they are likely to benefit even more from the vaccine.

Dr Rajiv Agarwal
Senior Director Cardiology, Max Smart Super Speciality Hospital

Is it safe for the baby if you are a breastfeeding mother and you get vaccinated? Also, is it safe for pregnant women to get vaccinated?

Pfizer and Moderna have shared safety data on the vaccine that has been clinically tested on 94,000 women—frontline workers, pregnant women and women with comorbidities. However, Covishield and Covaxin have not done so. The Office of the Director Of Public Health and Preventive Medicine issued a circular on May 6, 2021, stating the ‘vaccines at present in use are contraindicated in pregnant and lactating mothers.” Moreover, the Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech also does not recommend such vaccination, the circular states. 

Dr Anjila Aneja,
Director obstetrics and gynaecology, Fortis la Femme GKII
Director and Head Minimal Access Surgery, Fortis Memorial Institute, Gurgaon

How do you interpret hope to a man who has lost his near and dear ones in a span of two days due to Covid? ~ Titus Anto, Bangalore

Spiritual knowledge makes it easier to cope with the loss of a loved one. Spiritual awareness begins with understanding one’s true identity — that one is a soul. The soul is the imperishable sentient energy that gives life to the body, which is the physical medium using which the soul thinks, speaks and acts. Death is merely the soul leaving one body to take birth in another.

We come in contact with many people during the course of our life. We have brief interactions with some, and longer ones with others. The love, affection and support we receive from them creates close bonds, and when these are severed by someone’s passing away, we experience grief. But once we recognise the truth that each soul is independent and no one belongs to us forever, we do not get attached to any person. Yet we are able to have respectful, loving relations as we realise that each soul is playing a unique role in the world. When a loved one passes away, instead of creating thoughts of sorrow, we can remember their good qualities, appreciate their contribution to our life, and send them good wishes for their onward journey. If we grieve, we send vibrations of sorrow to the departed soul and disturb their peace. We must remember that we have a permanent companion and friend in God, the Father of all souls. The Supreme Soul is our eternal source of love and support. Developing a relationship with God, by regularly remembering Him, fills us with His love and peace, frees us from dependence on human supports, and makes us strong enough to guide others to connect with Him and be liberated from all sorrow.

Rajyogi B K Brijmohan, Chief Spokesman of Brahma Kumaris Organization

How to be happy and sustain that happiness, more so when the atmosphere is not conducive? ~ Yudhishtra Rakhija, Kanpur

Happiness, which is conditional, may be dependent on external circumstances or a beloved being whom you want to be with. It is all relative, as for somebody bothered with scorching heat in the summer, swimming or a boat ride may become a reason to be happy while sumptuous food may make gluttons gleeful. Then people derive happiness from wearing fragrances, high-end luxury clothing, and so on. In a way, I have covered all the five indulgences a human being wishes to have by the virtue of five sense organs.

Now, given the current scenario of imposed lockdown, your freedom to be delightful in the usual ways has got curtailed. So, when there is no way to go outside, the only way to go is inside! However, if you are bereft of an enriching experience of being with yourself, if you keep seeking the company of others, then you will find it hard to understand this. 

Be more focussed on yourself and less bothered about the whereabouts of others. This is what makes a spiritual person distinct from others. He is aware of his mind and witnesses it with aloofness. Being a witness is epitomized by the philosophy of Sankhya too. You do not have to make an effort to be a witness, you are one already. You are the absolute reality. You are Brahmn! When you are aware of your reality, where is the need to seek joy from others?

Also, know that no worldly object or pleasure accompanies you when you enter that most blissful state called deep sleep. It gives you a glimpse of what true state of meditation is like. When you start meditating, the mind will slowly turn inward and you will realise that being with your true self can give you everlasting happiness, without being dependent on situations around you. Besides, you can also turn self-sufficient by channelizing your creative energies for various art forms.

Anandmurti Gurumaa, founder of Rishi Chaitanya Ashram, Sonepat

I study in class Xll. I’m frustrated and anxious due to the postponement of exams and family problems. Please help. How to keep my mind calm and have negative thoughts when I am surrounded by so much negativity? ~ Riddhi Deb, Kolkata

Dear Riddhi,

No doubt the Covid-19 pandemic has devastated the entire world.  A vast majority of the human population has been very badly affected.  What is the way out?  Should we keep worrying and get into anxiety, frustration, etc?  No.  Rather, it is time to come forward and take a lead role because you are young and are in a far more advantageous position compared to the older people.  In your own family you must cheer up others with your positivity and enthusiasm.  Please look at the world outside.  Compared to millions of people you and your family are far better off.  As far as exams are concerned, you are in the same position as others.  Lakhs of students are suffering in the same way.  You shouldn’t be anxious at all.  Swami Vivekananda says that every one of us is blessed with infinite knowledge, power, glory, etc.  You are the maker of your own destiny.  The idle mind is devil’s workshop.  Saturate your mind with powerful ideas of Swami Vivekananda.  Please read these two books i.e. “Letters of Swami Vivekananda” and “Lectures from Colombo to Almora”.  You will feel tremendously energized and enthused.  Even a very small booklet “Thoughts of Power” contains very powerful messages of Swami Vivekananda.  You must have already prepared well for your Board exams.  So, you need not spend too much time on academics.  Keep just revising.  But, use this opportunity to saturate yourself with Swami Vivekananda’s powerful man-making and character-building messages.  You should never entertain any negative idea.  Rather, you should be an inspiration for others.  Because you have too much of free time, why not try a new hobby or spend quite some time in strengthening your existing skill i.e. music, art, etc.  You can also try your hand at cooking or helping your mother in household work.  But, the main support and strength would come from the ideas of Swami Vivekananda.

Swami Shantatmananda, Head, Ramakrishna Mission, Delhi

I feel depressed every now and then during this lockdown period. No offline classes in college have made it worse. All I can do all day is overthink things that don’t even have anything to do with me. I’m losing focus and energy to do anything else. Sometimes it just feels too much. Please help ~ Anonymous

When we think too much, it means that a part of us (the part that copes by “fight” response) is trying to flash thoughts at you in order to keep you vigilant as it feels you are under threat. Our brain is wired to cope in this way by evolution. This means that we need to do more activities that make us feel safe and calm. Look up “activities to regulate the vagus nerve” and use that to soothe yourself. The other important thing to do is socialise in whatever way you can, for example, going for walks etc with a mask. Seeing some people is better than none. Also try and organise game or movie nights online with your friends.

I feel very lonely. My husband died a few years ago. The worst thing is that I was not supported by my in-laws. They never took care of me after his death. I was in a job but had to leave it though I need the money. I am frightened about the current situation. I am becoming sick day by day as I am going through depression. I want to travel to feel better but I don’t have friends to travel with plus it is impossible during the lockdown. I did not get into a relationship after my husband’s death. I want to be happy but don’t know how to. Please help ~ Anonymous

When we put our well-being into another person’s hands, we will always be susceptible. A loss of a spouse is traumatic and nothing can take away your grief. Self-support is the best support — this belief needs to be underscored in your mind. What can I do, with where I am, and with what I have, is a good way to begin. Unfortunately, too many of us do not ask accountability of ourselves when we find ourselves in distress. All problems have solutions, albeit not necessarily the most optimal ones. It is important to direct the mind to find those. That means not allowing oneself to wallow and instead trying to find purpose in what would otherwise be a meaningless existence. As Viktor Frankl said, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

I am 42 and have fully recovered from Covid. My wife, 41, took care of me and supported me all around. Without her sacrifice I could not have recovered so fast. We are back to normal life but she is not mentally prepared to resume physical proximity. Is there anything wrong in my expectations or does she need to divert her mindset? ~ Anonymous

Issues of communication and consent are always important in intimate relationships, especially when your spouse’s comfort levels and concerns around touch and close contact have changed after being infected with Covid-19. It’s also absolutely normal to not feel like engaging in any sexual activity during this time. The anxiety that comes along with the pandemic, the stress of working from home while also managing the house and the worry she may feel for you can suppress her sexual drive. Don’t force yourself to feel something that isn’t coming naturally. Once things get better, your partner’s sexual drive may return to how it was before. It’s important to talk with your partner about what kind of behaviour she wants to engage in first. Remember that fondling, PDA (public display of affection), cuddling and kissing are also forms of physical intimacy, so enjoy them as much as possible.

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