15-17 age group to get Covaxin from January 3

Third dose for seniors only 39 weeks after second

December 27, 2021 07:32 pm | Updated December 28, 2021 09:31 am IST - New Delhi

A medical staff member prepares Covaxin during a vaccination drive in New Delhi. File

A medical staff member prepares Covaxin during a vaccination drive in New Delhi. File

Teenagers aged 15 to 17, who will be eligible for vaccination from January 3, will be administered only Covaxin doses, a note from the Health Ministry said on Monday.

Healthcare workers and frontline workers who have received two doses would be eligible for a “precaution dose” from January 10, though those with a gap of at least 39 weeks since the second dose would be prioritised.

Those 60 years and above with co-morbidities who have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, would on doctor’s advice be provided a similar “precaution dose” from January 10. The prioritisation and sequencing of this dose would also be based on the completion of nine months — 39 weeks from the date of administration of second dose.

According to the Health Ministry, those born in 2007 or earlier will be able to register on CoWIN from January 3. They can do it online through an existing account or create a new account through a unique mobile number. They can also be registered on-site by the verifier and vaccinator in facilitated registration mode. Appointments can be booked online or onsite .

Healthcare workers, frontline workers and citizens aged 60 or above with co-morbidities will be able to fix appointments for the precaution dose through their existing CoWIN accounts.

The CoWin system will send an SMS to such beneficiaries for availing the precaution dose when the dose becomes due. It is however unclear from the Health Ministry note if the precaution dose would be a third dose of the same vaccine or any other vaccine. Currently the only vaccines that have been administered to Indians are Covishield, Covaxin and a few doses of Sputnik V.

“All citizens irrespective of their income status are entitled to free COVID-19 vaccination at Govt. vaccination centres. Those who have the ability to pay are encouraged to use vaccination centres at private hospitals,” the note underlined.

The decision to expand vaccination coverage was due to a rapid rise in the number of Omicron cases in India and “inputs and suggestions” from India’s National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), the note added.

The NTAGI has been deliberating for months on the question of the most appropriate combination of booster doses or expanding the vaccination programme to those below 18.

The World Health Organisation said last week that all studies to date show a “strong immunological response” when a third dose was administered. However, there was insufficient data and too little follow-up to assess the duration of the response.

“Both homologous (vaccines of the same kind) and heterologous (mixed vaccines) booster regimens are immunologically effective,” the WHO noted, “All studies demonstrate an improvement in protection against infection; milder disease; as well as severe disease and death.”

Prime Minister announced on Saturday night that teenagers in the 15-18 age group would be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination, and frontline and health workers and senior citizens above the age of 60 with co-morbidities on the advice of doctors would be eligible for a what he termed a “precaution” or third dose.

Vaccinations for those 15-17 he said, would not only help protect them as schools have reopened in many places but also go a long way in assuring worried parents.

In the course of his nearly 15-minute address, the Prime Minister urged caution without panic in dealing with the Omicron variant.

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