Vaccine policy for children, booster shots expected in 2 weeks
The central government's panel on COVID-19 vaccination will discuss inoculation for children at a meeting within the next two weeks, NDTV reported citing sources. The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation in India (NTAGI) will also come up with a comprehensive plan for administering booster doses of coronavirus vaccine to adults, the sources said. Here are more details on this.
Why does it matter?
- The proposed meet is significant as vaccinating children will be a crucial turning point in India's inoculation program.
- The country has not yet started administering vaccines to children even though jabs have been approved for the younger population.
- Further, the issue of booster doses is important as research suggests immunity wanes over time.
- India has given out over 115 crore vaccine doses so far.
Vaccination for children may begin in January
Vaccination for children with comorbidities would likely begin in January 2022, sources told the publication. And, all children are expected to become eligible for vaccination by March.
India approved first COVID-19 jab for kids months ago
Notably, it has been months since India approved its first COVID-19 vaccine for the younger population. But the authorities are yet to start giving out vaccines to children. In August, India's drug regulator had approved Zydus Cadila's vaccine for children aged 12 years and above. Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN has also been recommended for use in children by an expert committee.
Booster shots and India's take on the issue
Separately, the issue of booster shots has been a controversial one. The United States is the latest country set to broaden COVID-19 booster eligibility to the elderly and other high-risk groups. Other countries administering booster doses include Israel, the United Kingdom, and Italy. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has repeatedly criticized booster dose programs. India has so far remained non-committal about the matter.
India's vaccination drive
Since beginning its vaccination program in January, India has administered more than 117 crore doses. Some 81% of the country's adults have received at least one vaccine dose while 43% have taken both the doses. The Indian government has set a target of fully vaccinating the nation's nearly 94 crore adult population by the end of this year.