Advisory group to meet today on child immunisation, additional vaccine dose amid Omicron scare
- The new variant of Covid-19 was first detected in South Africa's Botswana early in November. It has been declared a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation.
The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) will meet on Monday to deliberate upon issues of child immunisation and administering additional doses of Covid-19 vaccine to the immunocompromised.
The NTAGI is expected to come up with a comprehensive policy for both the additional Covid-19 vaccine dose and child immunisation, as informed by the chairman of India's Covid-19 task force, NK Arora, on November 29.
This comes amid fears of a third wave of Covid-19 following the emergence of a new variant of Coronavirus, Omicron.
"The policy will deal with who will require the vaccine, when and how. This needs to be seen in the context that a new variant is coming and with time only we will get to know more information about it. Therefore relevance and effectiveness of the current vaccines will also become apparent with time only," Arora had said, according to ANI.
There is a difference between a booster dose and an additional dose. The booster dose is given after a predefined period after the primary two doses have been given, while an additional dose is given to those people who have a basic problem with their immune functions, the doctor had explained.
NK Arora had also said a comprehensive plan for immunising 44 crore children will be made public soon, adding that children with comorbidities will be prioritised and vaccinated first, followed by healthy children.
People familiar with the development said that government experts are at present working on a list of comorbidities that could determine which children are eligible for a vaccine first.
Only one Covid-19 vaccine, Zydus Healthcare’s ZyCoV-D, that was tested in children aged 12 years and above has been approved for emergency use in India.
The drugs controller general of India is still reviewing the emergency use authorization of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin that has been tested in children aged 2 years and above, even though the expert committee recommended it for use in children.
A total of 21 cases of Omicron have been detected in the last couple of days in India, with some experts pushing for a booster shot to the already vaccinated to minimise the effect of the pandemic.
The new variant of Covid-19 was first detected in South Africa's Botswana early in November. It has been declared a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation.
Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya had recently informed the Lok Sabha that the NTAGI and the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC) were deliberating and considering scientific evidence regarding administration of booster doses.