Registration opens for children’s vaccination
New Delhi: Nearly 300,000 children between 15 and 18 years of age registered to receive Covid-19 vaccination on the government’s CoWIN portal on Saturday, the first day they became eligible in India’s expanded inoculation programme that begins from January 3.
“When children are safe, country’s future is safe. On the occasion of New Year, from today (Saturday) onwards registration of 15-18 years for Covid vaccination on CoWIN is being started,” health minister Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted on Saturday. “It’s my request to parents that they should register their eligible children for vaccination.”
Children aged 15-18 will start receiving Covid-19 vaccinations from January 3, and health and frontline workers will start getting a third precautionary jab from January 10, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on December 25. By 10.30pm on Saturday, 299,215 children had registered on CoWIN.
The decision to inoculate children above 15 years of age was taken on the advice of technical experts on immunisation looking into the scientific evidence generated on children’s vaccination against Covid-19.
“Evidence shows while the disease is mild in children less than 10 years old, it manifests like adults in children between 12 and 15 age group. Last two years’ data shows that 75% of the Covid-related deaths in children took place between 15 and 18 years age group,” said Dr NK Arora, chair of the Covid working group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation. “Also, this is largely the age in which children socially interact. It has been seen that adolescents largely behave like adults.”
“Globally also, stepwise vaccination has been allowed, and we followed a similar pattern in India,” Dr Arora said. “Maximum Covid-related complications have been seen in the population group between 15-16 and 18 years, which is why vaccination in children has been started in this age group.”
Expanding vaccination coverage to this age cohort also reduces the risk of infections among more vulnerable family members.
“Eventually, we will have to vaccinate everyone, and the disease in children may have been mild so far. But there is always a risk of them bringing the infection back home and putting at risk the elderly in the family and those with underlying medical conditions,” said Dr Vikas Maurya, director and head of department, respiratory medicine, Fortis Healthcare.
To inoculate children between 15 and 18 years of age, the health ministry has advised provincial authorities to either designate separate vaccination centres or deploy separate vaccinator teams to avoid confusion on the vaccine to be administered to them. The newly eligible teenagers will be only given Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.
The central government has said that it will ensure additional doses of the Bharat Biotech vaccine is sent to all states and Union territories.
“Union Government will share the supply schedule of ‘Covaxin’ with all the States and UTs in the next few days,” health secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote in a letter to all states last Tuesday.
Potential beneficiaries can either register themselves on CoWIN from January 1, 2022, or avail of a walk-in registration when vaccination commences from January 3. Those with the birth year of 2007 or before will be eligible for vaccination under this category.
All established protocols regarding vaccination are to be followed for the 15-18 years age group; beneficiaries are to wait for half an hour when they will be monitored for the adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) and will be eligible for the second dose only after 28 days.
States have been informed that they have the option to designate some Covid vaccination centres (CVCs) as dedicated CVC for the 15-18 age group exclusively which can also be reflected on CoWIN. Dedicated CVCs would ensure that there is no confusion in administering the vaccines. For CVCs that are intended to serve categories in addition to the 15-18 age group, the states were requested to ensure separate queues for the 15-18 age group and separate vaccination teams.
With regard to the administration of the precautionary dose, the Union health secretary highlighted that nine months (39 weeks) must have elapsed since the administration of the second dose to make the beneficiary eligible.