Amid fears over the spread of the Omicron variant, the Prime Minister, while telling the public not to panic and not to give up the practice of wearing masks and washing hands, listed the three priority groups for the “precautionary dose”
In a surprise address to the nation on Christmas night, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that Covid-19 vaccination will start January 3 onward for children in the 15-18 age group, while healthcare and frontline workers will be administered a booster — he called it “precaution dose” — from January 10.
The ”precaution dose” option, he said, will also be available from January 10 for citizens above the age of 60 with co-morbidities. They can take this shot on the advice of their doctors.
Amid fears over the spread of the Omicron variant, the Prime Minister, while telling the public not to panic and not to give up the practice of wearing masks and washing hands, listed the three priority groups for the “precautionary dose”, less than a year after the country rolled out its Covid-19 immunisation programme.
According to official estimates, there will be approximately 10 crore children in the 15-18 age group eligible for the Covid-19 vaccination. As of Saturday, 12.04 crore people over the age of 60 had received their first dose of vaccine; and 9.21 crore were fully vaccinated. Official data also showed that 1.03 crore healthcare workers had received their first dose, and 96 lakh were fully vaccinated; 1.83 crore frontline workers had received their first dose, and 1.68 crore were fully vaccinated.
“Today is also the birth anniversary of Atalji (former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee). We are also celebrating Christmas. So I thought I should share this decision today. Covid-19 vaccination will be introduced for all children in the age group 15-18 years. From January 3, 2022, we will start this drive. This decision will further strengthen our fight against the pandemic. Parents have been worrying about children returning to schools and colleges. This decision will help reduce their stress,” Modi said.
The announcement came hours after the country’s drug regulator granted emergency use authorisation (EUA) to Covaxin for vaccinating children in the 12-18 age group. With this approval, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin becomes the second vaccine to receive an EUA for the 12-18 age group — the drug regulator had earlier approved Zydus Cadila’s DNA Covid-19 vaccine for children above the age of 12.
The Prime Minister also said India will soon introduce a nasal Covid-19 vaccine and DNA vaccine.
He said the decision on “precaution dose” will strengthen confidence of health care workers and frontline workers. “It is our experience that Corona warriors — the healthcare and frontline workers — have played the most significant role in our fight against the pandemic. Even today, they are spending an immense amount of time treating Covid-19 patients. Which is why, as a precautionary measure, the government has taken a decision that a precaution dose will be started for healthcare and frontline workers. This will begin from January 10, 2022,” he said.