Updated: August 26, 2021 5:53:14 am
THE COVID-19 standing committee of National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI), comprising top scientific experts, has begun discussions on key aspects of a possible roll-out of Covid vaccination for children, The Indian Express has learnt.
Top government sources told The Indian Express that the standing committee of the NTAGI, which comprises experts from premier medical institutions, including AIIMS and ICMR, will be in a position to submit its final recommendation in the next 10-15 days to the high-powered National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVEC).
The NEGVEC, which is chaired by Dr V K Paul and co-chaired Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, will be taking the final decision on the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccination for children in the country. “Once their [NTAGI panel] recommendations are finalised, the NEGVEC will take a decision on their recommendations,” a source said.
Significantly, the scientific discussions related to roll-out of Covid-19 vaccination for children come days after the Indian drug regulator granted emergency use authorisation of Zydus Cadila’s DNA vaccine, which has been approved for children aged above 12.
While the NEGVAC will take a final call on the roll-out, prioritisation and logistics-related vaccination of children, sources said that Zydus Cadila has informed the government that its vaccine will arrive in October and that it aims to produce one crore doses in the first month.
NTAGI is India’s apex advisory body on immunization, which provides guidance to the government on vaccination by undertaking technical reviews of scientific evidence on matters related to immunization policy and programmes.
As the Covid-19 standing committee of the NTAGI has started discussions on vaccination of children, sources said the technical body will be looking at scientific data on co-morbidities among children and the proportion of this vulnerable group to make recommendations to the government on aspects related to prioritisation of vaccination for the children.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Health Secretary Bhushan chaired a high-level meeting with all states to review progress of Covid-19 vaccination. The states were advised to focus on enhancing second dose coverage as well as immunization of school teachers and staff.
Ahead of the meeting, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya announced that more than two crore additional vaccine doses will be sent to the states from August 27 to vaccinate school teachers and non-teaching staff on a priority basis.
“The Union Health Secretary stressed on having a definite district-level plan to increase coverage of second dose. States were advised to undertake targeted strategies like earmarking specific days/ specific vaccination sites/ specific timings every day/ separate queue to exclusively administer second dose of the vaccines,” the Health Ministry said.
“The states were also requested to identify districts whose vaccine coverage is lower than the state average and monitor as well as enhance progress of vaccination in these districts.”
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