Booster dose for seniors with comorbidities from Jan. 10
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced yesterday that teenagers in the 15-18 age group would be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination and frontline & health workers and senior citizens above the age of 60 with comorbidities on the advice of doctors would be eligible for a what he termed a “precaution” or third dose.
In a late-evening televised address to the nation, Modi announced the dates for the commencement of this vaccination process. Jan. 3, 2022 will see the roll-out of vaccination for 15- to 18-year-olds, while Jan. 10 will be the commencement date for “precaution dose” for healthcare workers and the elderly with comorbidities.
The announcement comes on the back of the Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) giving emergency usage nod for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin to be used for children aged 12-18.
“All our decisions with regard to vaccination, their research, approval and certification has been scientifically driven as has our vaccination drive and who is eligible to be vaccinated first, in that regard, these decisions today were made,” the PM said.
Vaccinations for children aged between 15 and 18, he said, will 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 PM urged caution without panic in dealing with Omicron variant. He gave an overview of ground-level preparations already made by the Government with regard to healthcare systems in anticipation of Omicron and taking lessons from the second wave.
“Currently, nearly 90 percent of all those eligible for vaccines have had at least one dose, and 61 percent of the eligible population has had both doses. We have over 18 lakh hospital beds available, out of which five lakh beds are oxygen supported. Almost 90,000 intensive care unit (ICU) beds are for children alone and over 30,000 PSA oxygen plants have been set up across the country,” Modi said on the healthcare infrastructure ramp up after the second wave devastated India in the summer months.
“I would ask that you not to panic but maintain caution in the face of the new mutation of the Coronavirus. Maintain use of masks and frequently wash hands. As we have faced the Coronavirus, our ability to fight it has also improved,” he said.
Doctors welcome move
The medical fraternity of the country has welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement that those in the age group of 15-18 years will be getting the jabs from next month. They said that children above 5 years of age should be vaccinated.
“It is a welcome decision. The next plan should be to vaccinate children above 5 years old. Paediatricians should be allowed to vaccinate these children in their clinics,” doctors said.
“Not only should we target 13 years plus children, but also we should target 5 year olds also. That should be our next plan. All paediatricians should be allowed to vaccinate these children in their clinics if we want to expedite the vaccination process,” they added.
Most of the children from this age group visit paediatric clinics and the process of vaccination can be expedited rather than limiting it to a few vaccination centres.