Covid Vaccines For 15-18 Age Group, Boosters For Over 60, Frontline Workers: Here's All You Need To Know
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the government has decided to extend the Covid-19 vaccination campaign to teens aged between 15 and 18 years. He also said "precautionary doses" will be available to frontline workers and citizens above 60 years of age with comorbidities.
Here's what we know about the additions to India's vaccination programme:
Who All Are Eligible?
Young adults between 15 and 18 years of age will now be eligible for vaccination. Earlier, the program was open only to those aged above 18. "This decision will not only strengthen the country's fight against coronavirus, but will also reduce the anxiety of our children going to schools and colleges and their parents," Modi had said.
"Precautionary doses", or booster shots as they are called around the world, will be available to all healthcare and frontline workers. This announcement comes as India prepares to fight a third wave of Covid patients as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly across the world. Personnel to be deployed in election duty in five poll-bound states of Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab will also be included in the category of frontline workers, the Health Ministry said in an official statement.
Booster shots are also available for citizens above 60 years of age and with comorbidities. Such people will have the option of taking a shot, but only on the advice of their doctors, Modi said. They will also not be required to produce any certificate from the doctor, at the time of administration of precaution dose.
When Will The Programme Start?
According to the prime minister's speech, vaccination for 15-18 year olds will be launched on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022. States have also been informed by the Health Ministry that they have the option to dedicate some vaccination sites only for the 15-18 age group and reflect the same on Co-WIN.
As for frontline workers and senior citizens, precaution doses will be available starting Jan. 10, 2022, a week after inoculation for teens begin.
However, senior citizens and frontline workers can receive a third "precautionary dose" only if nine months or more have passed since the individual has received their second Covid-19 shot, according to a Health Ministry statement.
How To Register?
Registration for children aged 15-18 will begin on Jan. 1. The registrations can be done via the Co-WIN app. National Health Agency CEO RS Sharma was also quoted by ANI saying that children can also register using their Class 10 student ID cards, since some "might not have Aadhaar or other identity cards".
Children between the age of 15-18 years can also "self-register, online through an existing account on Co-WIN or can register by creating a new account through a unique mobile number," according to a statement by the Health Ministry.
For booster shots for frontline workers and senior citizens with comorbidities, since there is a nine-month gap requirement, eligibility will be based on the date of administration of the second dose as recorded in the Co-WIN system.
"The system will send an SMS to such beneficiaries for availing the precaution dose when the dose becomes due. Registration and appointment services can be accessed through both, the online and the onsite modes," the statement read. Details of administration of the precautionary dose, it said, will reflect in the vaccination certificates.
Vaccines For Teens, Booster Doses
The Health Ministry, in its guidelines, has stated that Covaxin will be the only available vaccine for the 15-18 age group. There's no official word on which vaccines will be used for booster doses.
Bharat Biotech on Saturday had also said in a statement that Covaxin has been granted approval for emergency use in the 12-18 age group.
"Covaxin is formulated uniquely such that the same dosage can be administered to adults and children," the statement said. Bharat Biotech has documented "excellent" safety and immunogenicity data readouts in children, it said.
India's drug regulator had in August, granted emergency use authorisation to ZyCoV-D, a vaccine developed by Zydus Cadila. The DNA-based vaccine was cleared for all above 12 years of age, the government had said.
The prime minister in his speech on Dec. 25 also said India will soon introduce nasal and DNA-based vaccines to speed up vaccination for everyone.