Covaxin only vaccine option for children in 15-18 years age group: Centre

Covaxin preferred to Zydus Cadila’s ZyCov-D, the other vaccine approved for use among children
Last Updated : 28 December 2021, 02:47 IST

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Indian adolescents belonging to the 15-18 year age group would be getting the Covid-19 shots from January 3 and the initial choice for them would be the Indian-made Covaxin, the Union Health Ministry said in a guideline issued on Monday.

The indigenous vaccine, manufactured by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the National Institute of Virology, Pune, has been preferred by the government over Zydus Cadila’s ZyCov-D, the other Covid shot approved by the Drugs Controller General of India for use among children.

Healthcare and front-line workers, and senior citizens with comorbidities, who received their second dose of Covid-19 vaccine nine months ago would be eligible for a precautionary third shot from the second week of January.

While the government announced plans to offer a third precautionary shot (the term booster shot has not been used) for a section of the recipients of two doses, there is no clarity yet on which jab — Covishield or Covaxin or a third vaccine — would be used. However, according to a report by PTI that quoted official sources, mixing of vaccines will not be allowed.

The Health Ministry guidelines were issued two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a televised address, announced the expansion of the Covid-19 vaccination to the 15-18 year age groups and the third shot for a section of the recipients.

“As a matter of abundant precaution, for those Health Care Workers and Front Line Workers who have received two doses, another dose of Covid-19 vaccine would be provided from January 10, 2022. The prioritization and sequencing of this precaution dose would be based on the completion of nine months i.e. 39 weeks from the date of administration of second dose,” the guideline stated.

Almost similar conditions were stipulated for those above 60 years with comorbidities. However, they would be given the third shot on the basis of doctors’ advice, even as a section of experts is wondering whether such a condition would limit the scope for many.

“The option of precaution dose for those older than 60 year olds with co-morbidities on the advice of their doctors could have been relaxed to make it open to anyone above 60 years without a prescription,” tweeted health economist Rijo John, a guest faculty at the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode.

The guidelines stated, “Keeping in view the recent global surge in Covid-19 cases, detection of the Omicron variant that has been categorised Variant of Concern, scientific evidence, global practices and inputs of the Covid-19 Working Group of National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization as well as of the 'Standing Technical Scientific Committee of NTAGI, it has now been decided to further refine the scientific prioritisation and coverage of vaccination.”

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Published 27 December 2021, 13:06 IST

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