Updated: December 28, 2021 11:45:14 am
Ahead of the January 10 rollout of Covid-19 shots for teens, the Union Health Ministry has announced that Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin will be the only vaccine that will be administered to eligible recipients in the age group of 15-18 years.
The ministry also announced on Monday that the three priority groups of healthcare workers, frontline workers, and individuals older than 60 can receive their third “precautionary dose” 39 weeks after getting their second jab.
“As a matter of abundant precaution, for those Health Care Workers (HCWs) & Front Line Workers (FLWs) who have received two doses, another dose of Covid-19 vaccine would be provided from January 10, 2022. The prioritisation and sequencing of this precaution dose would be based on the completion of 9 months, i.e. 39 weeks, from the date of administration of second dose,” the ministry said.
The decisions to vaccinate adolescents and administer a precautionary dose to vulnerable groups were taken in view of the recent global surge of coronavirus infections, detection of the new Omicron variant of the virus, scientific evidence, global practices, “and the inputs/suggestions of ‘Covid-19 Working Group of National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI)’ as well as of ‘Standing Technical Scientific Committee (STSC)’ of NTAGI”, the ministry said.
Children born in 2007 and earlier shall be eligible to receive the vaccine, the ministry said. “…Vaccination of children in the age-group of 15-18 years to be started from January 3, 2022. For such beneficiaries, the vaccination option would be ‘Covaxin’ only,” the guidelines said.
Beneficiaries can register online through an existing account on Co-WIN, or after creating a new account through a unique mobile number. Children can book a slot using their parents’ existing Co-WIN accounts.
Dr R S Sharma, CEO, National Health Authority (NHA), which has designed the Co-WIN infrastructure, told The Indian Express that booking of slots for children will open from January 1. “The students can use the nine documents that are already listed (for adult vaccination). Additionally, they can also use their student identity cards,” Sharma said.
The health ministry’s guidelines said children could be registered onsite by the verifier/vaccinator in facilitated registration mode; appointments can also be booked online or onsite (walk-in).
For the precautionary doses, the Co-WIN system will send SMSes to beneficiaries when the dose becomes due.
The precautionary dose will be administered on the advice of a doctor based on the comorbidity, the guidelines state. Sharma said the beneficiary will have to carry the certificate of comorbidity to the vaccination centre.
“The beneficiary will only be asked if they have comorbidity or not. They will just need to carry it to the vaccination centre. There is no need to upload anything before booking the slot on the Co-WIN platform,” he said.
For the precautionary dose, registration and appointment services can be accessed through both online and onsite modes. “The details of administration of the precaution dose will be suitably reflected in the vaccination certificates,” the guidelines state.
While all citizens irrespective of income will be entitled to free vaccination in the new phase, “those who have the ability to pay are encouraged to use private hospital’s vaccination centres”, according to the guidelines.
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