Precaution dose India

Free COVID-19 booster shots for all adults for 75 days from July 15 at government centres

Recently, the government reduced the booster dose gap from nine months to six months. File

Recently, the government reduced the booster dose gap from nine months to six months. File | Photo Credit: E. Lakshmi Narayanan

As part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations, free precaution doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be available for all citizens above 18 years of age at government vaccination centres from July 15 for 75 days, Anurag Singh Thakur, Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting, announced on July 13, following a meeting of the Union Cabinet.

Tweeting on the decision, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said that it would further strengthen India’s fight against COVID-19 and add an extra layer of safety. “I urge all those eligible to get their precaution dose at the earliest,’’ Mr. Mandaviya added.

India’s cumulative COVID-19 vaccination coverage exceeds 199.12 crore, and over 3.76 crore first dose vaccines have been administered for the 12-14 years age group as on July 13, the Health Ministry said. According to government data, 96% of India’s population has been administered the first dose of COVID vaccines while 87% of people have taken both doses. 

On April 10 this year, India began administering precaution doses of COVID-19 vaccines to all aged above 18 years. The Centre recently reduced the gap between the second and precaution doses of COVID-19 vaccines from nine to six months after a recommendation from the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI).

Also, to accelerate the pace of vaccination and encourage booster shots, the government launched the second round of the ‘Har Ghar Dastak campaign 2.0’ across States on June 1. The two-month programme is currently underway.

The countrywide vaccination drive was rolled out on January 16, 2021, with healthcare workers inoculated in the first phase. Vaccination of frontline workers started from February 2, 2021.

On March 1, 2021, COVID-19 vaccination began for people over 60 years of age and those aged 45 years and above with specified comorbid conditions. Vaccination for all people aged more than 45 years began on April 1, 2021. The government then decided to expand the drive by allowing everyone above 18 years to be inoculated against COVID from May 1, 2021. Inoculation of those in the age group of 15-18 years began on January 3 this year. The country began inoculating children aged 12-14 years from March 16. 

Meanwhile, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG) in its latest bulletin said that while globally, the number of new weekly COVID cases has continued to decline since a peak in January 2022, the Omicron variant of concern remains the dominant variant circulating globally, accounting for 97% of sequences reported. Among the Omicron lineages, BA.2 represents the highest number of cases, while BA.2.12.1, BA.5, and BA.4 are present in lower numbers.

“In the Indian scenario, many BA.2 have been reclassified to BA.2.38. BA.2.38 seems to be the prevalent sub-lineage in the latest sequencing batches. However, so far this has not led to any increase in hospitalisation or any report of increase in disease severity. A few deaths that have been reported recently, are due to comorbidities. COVID-19 appropriate behavior is likely to reduce the spread of the infection and hence continues to be recommended,’’ it said.

The INSACOG reports genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 across the country through sequencing of samples from sentinel sites and international passengers arriving in India.


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Printable version | Jul 14, 2022 10:00:23 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/centre-to-provide-free-covid-booster-shots-for-75-days/article65634925.ece