Visakhapatnam

It’s time for booster shot to increase immunity, say experts

It has been one and a half month since the Centre announced that those in the age group of 18-59 years, who had taken their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, 90 days earlier, are eligible to get their booster dose. But there seems to be not many takers.

The reasons include a sharp decline in the number of new COVID-19 positive cases during the last few months, unwillingness among a section of people to buy the vaccine which has hitherto been given free, and a notion that the booster dose is a ploy of the vaccine producers to sell their stocks.

“Booster dose is compulsory for all vaccines, and the one for COVID-19 is no exception. The booster shot increases the antibody rate and protects the individual who has taken it. Further, many countries are insisting on production of the booster dose certificate for those arriving for studies, employment or business,” says Dr. K. Rambabu, Director, Visakha Institute of Medical Sciences (VIMS).

“The minimum waiting period for taking the booster dose has been reduced to three months from nine by the government. The current guidelines prefer the vaccine taken for the first and second doses for the booster dose too,” he says.

Meanwhile, Praja Arogya Vedika (PAV) president M.V. Ramanaiah and general secretary T. Kameswara Rao have been demanding for over a month now that the booster dose should be given free of cost to all people in view of the continuing threat of the virus and that the vaccination programme must be taken up by the government under the National Health Immunisation Programme.

“The vaccine had either prevented COVID-19 or reduced its severity, which was evident during the first and second waves. As it was offered free, a vast majority of people had availed themselves of it. Today, the vaccine is priced at ₹225 and an additional ₹150 has to be paid to the private hospital administering it. Many people cannot afford to pay that amount,” says Mr. Kameswara Rao.

‘Messages stopped’

Healthcare workers, people aged above 60, and other high risk groups were given the vaccine free of cost by the government. “We have information that even these groups have stopped getting messages since March asking them to take the booster dose. The Supreme Court judgment asking the governments not to force people to take the booster dose, seems to have come as a blessing in disguise to the latter,” he remarks.

The administration of the booster dose vaccine has been handed over to four private hospitals in the district. “The health officials do not seem to have a proper record as the private hospitals have not been updating the vaccination figures regularly, it is alleged.


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Printable version | May 24, 2022 8:21:26 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Visakhapatnam/its-time-for-booster-shot-to-increase-immunity-say-experts/article65456867.ece