4.2 million kids vaccinated against Covid-19 as next phase kicks off

Updated on Jan 04, 2022 07:29 AM IST

Between 8am and 8pm, 4.12 million doses were delivered, data from the Union government’s Co-Win dashboard showed. This age-group accounted for 42% of all doses delivered till that time on Monday.

The Day 1 excitement was palpable at the vaccination centres at schools, hospitals, and special vaccination sites.(AFP)
The Day 1 excitement was palpable at the vaccination centres at schools, hospitals, and special vaccination sites.(AFP)
ByAbhishek Jha and Soumya Pillai, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

More than 4 million teens, or over 5,500 every minute, were given coronavirus vaccines in a mere 12 hours after they became eligible for shots on Monday, sending a perceptible sense of relief among parents and children who queued up at vaccine centres under the shadow of a budding third wave of cases.

Between 8am and 8pm, 4.12 million doses were delivered, data from the Union government’s Co-Win dashboard showed. This age-group accounted for 42% of all doses delivered till that time on Monday.

Also Read| Omicron cases in India rises to 1,700; Maharashtra, Delhi worst-hit

“Well done Young India! Over 40 lakh (four million) between 15-18 age group received their first dose of #COVID19 vaccine on the 1st day of vaccination drive for children, till 8 PM. This is another feather in the cap of India’s vaccination drive,” said Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya in a tweet.

The turnout was encouraging also because, just on the first day of the vaccine drive being expanded, it accounted for 5% of the estimated eligible population in this cohort, and 79% of the 5.1 million who signed up for shots under this age group.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India has taken an important step in protecting its youth against the disease. ‘’Congrats to all my young friends between the age group of 15-18 who got vaccinated. Congrats to their parents as well. I would urge more youngsters to get vaccinated in the coming days!’’ he said on Twitter.

If this rate is maintained – although the opening day of a new phase typically has the highest demand – all of the estimated 74 million children are likely to be covered with the first doses within this month.

The Day 1 excitement was palpable at the vaccination centres at schools, hospitals, and special vaccination sites.

Also Read| Centre terms reports of using expired Covaxin ‘misleading’

“I was looking forward to the vaccinations being opened for my age group. We have been cooped up inside our houses for nearly two years now, with schools being opened only on-and-off. Offline classes have not been very helpful. I am hoping that with maximum children coming for vaccinations, physical classes will finally resume,” said Rishvi Rajvanshi (16), a resident of south Delhi’s Malviya Nagar.

Parents accompanying their children, too, said getting children at least the first dose was their priority.

“I cannot tell you how anxious we were to get our children vaccinated, especially after the havoc that the second Covid wave wrecked. We lost my father to the virus in May and we have seen what this virus can do. As soon as the vaccination for children was announced, we have been on the lookout for registrations. I am glad that my son and my niece got their first doses,” said Arunima Singh, who was accompanying 15-year-old Niha and 17-year-old Dhruv to the Kautilya Sarvodaya School in Greater Kailash.

Officials at the vaccination centres said the process went smoothly. “Everything went very smoothly today. Children were excited and parents were also relieved to have their kids protected. Many children were also curious about how the vaccination will protect them,” said Dr Suresh Kumar, medical director, Lok Nayak Hospital.

At present, only Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin is approved to be administered to recipients under the age of 18.

The new phase of the vaccine drive comes at a time of a sharp acceleration in cases, driven largely by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The variant is the most transmissible yet and is more resistant to immunity from past infection or vaccines than other configurations of the virus. But it is linked to significantly lower odds of hospitalisations, especially among those who have some immunity.

Several countries accelerated their vaccination and booster drives last month when the variant began spreading after being first detected by South Africa in mid-November.

“It is day one of children getting jabbed, and just into the new years which usually was going to add to vaccine hesitancy; however, given the circumstances, the response has been good. It could also do with the fact that the numbers have suddenly started to rise again and it has brought people out of their comfort zone that many were in. We should see further rise in vaccination numbers,” said Dr Anupam Sibal, senior paediatrician, and group medical director, Apollo Hospitals.

Overall, the 45-60 age group population has the biggest two-dose vaccine coverage at 73.2%, data from the Co-WIN dashboard analysed by HT showed, followed by people in the 60-plus age group at 68.5%.

Among states, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh administered the highest share of doses to children, while Punjab, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh recorded the least turnout in this age group.

On January 10, India’s coronavirus vaccination drive will further open up by allowing people above the age of 60 with certain illnesses and those in health care and front-line jobs to take their third doses, which the government has called “precaution doses”. These doses can only be taken if the primary vaccination course was completed more than nine months prior.

According to estimates by HT based on 2021 Census projections, these newly eligible people – including the adolescent age group -- will add demand for another 104 million doses this month. As on Monday, according to the Union government’s daily vaccine supply bulletin, states already have close to 200 million doses at hand, indicating that the number of doses will not be a problem.

Gagandeep Kang, vaccine expert, and senior faculty, Christian Medical College, Vellore, said, “Eventually, we will have to vaccinate everyone, but it makes sense to protect subsets as much as possible and as early as possible such as those who are immunocompromised, elderly, comorbidities.”

(With inputs from Rhythma Kaul)

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