India approves ‘precaution’ doses of COVID-19 vaccine for all over 18

It will be same as previous doses: Union Health Ministry

Updated - April 09, 2022 07:42 am IST

Published - April 08, 2022 03:36 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A health worker administers a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at a centre in Daryaganj, New Delhi on April 2, 2022. File

A health worker administers a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at a centre in Daryaganj, New Delhi on April 2, 2022. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Union Health Ministry on Friday announced that the precautionary or third dose of COVID-19 vaccine would be made available to the 18+ population at private vaccination centres. It would be the same as the previous doses.

The administration of this dose would begin on April 10. All those who have completed nine months after the administration of the second dose would be eligible, it stated.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya termed the extension of the vaccination drive an “extra layer of safety”.

1,109 new infections

The decision comes even as India logged 1,109 new coronavirus infections taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 4,30,33,067,while the active cases dipped to 11,492, according to the Health Ministry data updated on Friday.

Cases had dipped to triple digits but there’s been an uptick in some States. Kerala has reported 2,321 cases in the last week, accounting for nearly 30% of the country’s new cases along with an increase in positivity (number of confirmed positives relative to tests) from 13.45% to 15.53%. This has prompted the Health Ministry to write to the State’s Health Secretary on Friday to monitor clusters of new cases and required containment efforts for curbing infections, increase testing and undertake required steps in areas with high positivity and step genome sequencing of samples.

This week, reports emerged from Maharashtra of the likely detection of the XE variant, a highly infectious variant of the coronavirus that is a genetic offshoot of the BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron variants. Though not associated with increased disease severity, it has been linked to a spike in infectivity in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe. However, Union Health Ministry officials and Maharashtra State officials have differed on whether it was indeed an XE variant.

As per the Health Ministry, about 96% of all 15+ population in the country have received at least one vaccine dose, while about 83% of 15+ population had received both the doses. Also, more than 2.2 crore precaution doses have been administered to healthcare and frontline workers and 60+ population group.

The Ministry maintained that 45% of those in the 12 to 14 age group have received the first dose. “The ongoing free vaccination programme through Government Vaccination Centres for first and second dose to the eligible population as well as precaution dose to healthcare workers, frontline workers and 60+ population would continue and would be accelerated.”

In June last year, the Central government capped the prices of vaccines to be sold at private hospitals. With a ceiling of ₹150 that hospitals can charge a dose as ‘service charge’ and a GST of 5%, the maximum price chargeable for Covishield is ₹780, Covaxin, ₹1,410 and Sputnik V ₹1,145, the Ministry had said in an order.

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