COVID-19 vaccine precautionary dose available for 18+ from April 10
In a landmark decision, the Centre on Friday announced that precautionary doses of the COVID-19 vaccines in India will be made available to the entire adult population of the country starting Sunday (April 10). Anyone aged 18 years or above will be eligible to get the precautionary doses, or booster shots, at private vaccination centers from Sunday. Here are more details.
- The Centre's move is significant as it comes at a time when the majority of the COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted in view of the declining cases in the country.
- However, experts had earlier called for precautionary doses to be administered to the country's entire adult population, especially amid predictions that India could witness its fourth wave of COVID-19 from June this year.
The Union Health Ministry's announcement on Friday comes three months after the Centre started administering COVID-19 vaccine precautionary doses to healthcare and frontline workers and senior citizens with comorbidities on January 10, 2022. To note, only those who come under the 18+ age group and have completed nine months after their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will now be eligible for booster doses.
To recall, the Centre had started COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged 12 to 14 years in March, weeks after schools resumed in several states. And, earlier in January, India had started administering vaccines to those in the age group of 15-18 years.
So far, around 96% of India's population aged above 15 years has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while approximately 83% in the same age group received both doses since January 16, 2021—when the country launched its COVID-19 vaccination program. Notably, India first began administering precautionary doses in January 2022 amid the threat of subsequent waves posed by the Omicron variant.
The development also comes at a time when the number of COVID-19 cases in China, the United Kingdom, and many other Southeast Asian countries continues to rise. Separately, India reportedly saw its first case of the XE variant of the novel coronavirus, considered the most contagious one to date, in Mumbai on Wednesday. However, the Centre has denied such reports.
India on Friday reported over 1,100 new COVID-19 cases, an increase of nearly 100 cases from the day before. The country's active caseload currently stands at 11,492, which accounts for 0.03% of the total cases so far. In the past 24 hours, a total of 1,109 new cases and 43 fatalities were reported. Meanwhile, India's COVID-19 recovery rate stood at 98.76%.