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COVID-19 | Over 40 lakh in 15-18 age group vaccinated as drive opens up for teenagers

A health worker administers a COVID-19 vaccine dose to a 15-year-old girl beneficiary during the vaccination drive,  against coronavirus, in New Delhi on January 3, 2022.

A health worker administers a COVID-19 vaccine dose to a 15-year-old girl beneficiary during the vaccination drive, against coronavirus, in New Delhi on January 3, 2022.

Over 40 lakh persons between 15-18 age group received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine on the first day of vaccination drive for children, till 8 p.m., tweeted Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Monday.

According to COWIN dashboard , 37,84,212 people in the15-17 age group were administered COVID-19 vaccine on Monday and 49,07,874 (in this age group) have registered for the vaccine so far.

India’s cumulative vaccination coverage crosses 146.61 crore.

The programme, carried out in consultation with schools, is being held at hospitals and health centres. Covaxin will be administered in two doses at a gap of 28 days .

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Vikas Sheel, additional secretary, Union Health Ministry, said, “Only Covaxin is approved for less than 18 years. The 18+ (i.e. born in 2004 or before)-are eligible for all vaccines, including COVISHIELD. For 15-17 years [born in 2005, 2006, 2007] are eligible only for COVAXIN. Validations in place in Co-WIN’’.

Further surge in cases

India, meanwhile, registered a further surge in COVID-19 cases, with 33,750 new cases being reported in the last 24 hours along with 123 deaths, according to data released by the Health Ministry.

The country recorded nearly 1.3 lakh fresh cases during the week (December 27-January 2) — a 12-week high — as compared with the previous week’s tally of 46,073, which was the lowest since the middle of May 2020.

The Health Ministry on Monday issued a release clarifying that allegations about expired vaccines being administered under its national vaccination programme are false and misleading and based on incomplete information.

Also read:  Govt’s decision on COVID-19 vaccination for children ‘unscientific’, says senior epidemiologist

“The Central Drugs Standard Control Organization [CDSCO] on 25th October 2021, in response to Bharat Biotech International Limited’s letter approved the extension of shelf life of Covaxin [Whole Virion, Inactivated Coronavirus Vaccine] from nine months to 12 months. Similarly, the shelf life of Covishield was extended by the national regulator from six months to nine months on 22nd February 2021. The shelf life of vaccines is extended by the national regulator based on comprehensive analysis and examination of stability study data furnished by the vaccine manufacturers,’’ said the Ministry.

Requests for vaccination

Also healthcare centres across the country on Monday confirmed that they were getting requests for vaccination from those in the 15-17 age group. Apollo Hospitals on Monday said registration of children in the eligible age group and categories and/or booking of vaccination time slots in the Apollo 24/7 app had now begun.

“Specially trained staff will be deployed to take care of the vaccination of children above 15 years of age. All recommended government protocols will be followed, including identity checks, before the administration of the vaccine shots, validation of data in Co-WIN app, observation for 30 minutes post-vaccination, and AEFI [adverse effects following immunisation] management if any. Proper maintenance of the cold chain for vaccine storage, and biomedical waste management will be ensured. The vaccination process will follow infection control practices, including screening of all beneficiaries, for fever, physical distancing, hand hygiene, universal masking, and safe injection practices,’’ it stated.

Fortis Healthcare noted that it also commenced vaccination of children at four of its hospitals in Delhi/NCR . “There has been a good response to the children vaccination drive and we are expecting the numbers to increase in the coming days. With a continuous upsurge in COVID-19 cases across the country, it is crucial that children take the jab immediately to contain the community spread of the virus. We would urge all parents to get their children vaccinated and follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour and guidelines,’’ it observed in a statement.

This, even as doctors warn that the rise in the number of cases can overwhelm the healthcare system. “Even with low hospitalisation rates, the sheer numbers of these Omicron-driven surges could overwhelm the healthcare systems. Avoid all crowds and large indoor gatherings,’’ said Dr. Arvind Singh Soin, Liver Transplant Surgeon, Medanta-The Medicity, in a tweet.

Positive response from parents

In the national capital, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya visited a COVID-19 vaccination site for children at RML hospital and interacted with some of the beneficiaries.

With the drive starting mostly from schools, many principals and other officials said they received a positive response from students and their families.

“Whenever schools reopened in the midst of the pandemic, I was hesitant to send my son. It will be a relief now that he has received the vaccine,” said Savita Devi, whose son was waiting to get the jab at a Delhi government school.

Some students referred to restrictions on travelling and said they did not want to miss out on activities because they are not vaccinated.

“This was long-awaited. The third wave is already here and considering how aggressive the second wave was, we were all afraid,” said Ritesh Ghosh, a 17-year-old student.

Echoing similar sentiments, Reema Dutta, 15, said there is a sense of relief among people of her age group and they are looking forward to resuming their normal activities once vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“We can go outdoors while following COVID protocols once we have received the vaccination. The omicron is already scaring us”, she said.

But there were some like Diksha Patel, 17, from Raipur in Chhattisgarh who required some counselling from her family and friends to overcome hesitancy.

“On Sunday, our class teacher posted a message on our Whatsapp group about coming to school and getting vaccinated. I was worried as many of my family members fell ill after taking the vaccine during the second wave in April and May last year,” Patel, a Class XI student of JR Dani Government High School, said.

“However, my mother and other family members spoke to me about the benefits of vaccination, especially in view of rising cases and a possible third wave,” she told PTI .

Reflecting the urgency in the country as it stares at a possible third COVID-19 wave, leaders on Monday called for taking up the drive on a war footing, while Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope suggested that those in the 12-15 age bracket should also be allowed to get inoculated.

On December 25, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the inclusion of the 15 to 18 age group in the nationwide COVID immunisation  programme from January 3.

The vaccine option for this age group would only be Covaxin , according to guidelines issued by the Union health ministry on December 27.

In Mumbai, a girl student was the first to receive the vaccine dose at a jumbo COVID-19 centre in the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), where the drive was virtually launched by Maharashtra Tourism and Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray.

Mumbai has witnessed a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases since the second half of last month.

The city's civic body said vaccines will be given free of cost to children of all schools.

In neighbouring Pune, the vaccination campaign for children commenced at 40 centres on Monday, the city civic body's chief immunisation officer Dr Suryakant Devkar said.

“The beneficiary children were offered a rose, a pen and a mask after the vaccination,” Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol said.

Parents accompanied their children to the vaccination centres and the teenagers appeared happy and excited to take to jabs against the viral infection, he said.

Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha launched the drive at a government school in Jammu.

“In the coming week, the targeted population (8.33 lakh) will be vaccinated,” he told reporters.

As many as 822 vaccination sites have been set up across 20 districts for the vaccination of the children, officials said, appealing to the youngsters to come forward and get themselves vaccinated.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin urged people to diligently follow precautions as the country entered the next phase of vaccination.

“I do not wish to cause trepidation. Experts say the Omicron variant, which has emerged as a new threat, is highly transmissible though its impact is less severe compared to previous COVID variants. So, face-mask and vaccine against Coronavirus would serve as a shield to protect us now,” the chief minister said starting the drive.

Tamil Nadu hopes to administer the jabs to about 33.46 lakh school children in a month's time Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Odisha, Karnataka, West Bengal, Puducherry, Madhya Pradesh were among the states and Union territories that began the drive on Monday.

“We have to hold the vaccination drive on a war footing. Crisis management committees, MPs, MLAs, social workers, volunteers, religious leaders, all are requested to appeal to the children to get vaccinated,” Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said.

In Gujarat, Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel launched the drive at a school in Koba area of the state capital Gandhinagar.

The Gujarat health department has prepared around 3,500 centres across the state for the special vaccination campaign, and has said it will extend the daily timings of the drive from the current schedule of 9 AM to 6 PM.

Starting the drive from Dimapur District Hospital, Nagaland Health Minister S Pangyu Phom appealed to the beneficiaries to come forward and get inoculated.

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur commenced the campaign from Mandi at the Government Vijay Senior Secondary School (Boys).

About 3.57 lakh youngsters in the age group of 15-18 years are eligible for vaccination in the hill state and 4,259 educational institutions would be covered under this campaign.

(With inputs from PTI)


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Printable version | May 21, 2022 8:05:36 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/covid-19-vaccination-starts-for-younger-population-in-15-18-age-group/article38097715.ece