Vaccination for 12-15 age group to kick-start today
Inoculation of children against Covid-19 in the 12-15 age cohort will begin on Wednesday and initially take place only at government vaccination centres across India till Biological E, the maker of Corbevax, announces the price of its vaccine for the private sector.
Inoculation of children against Covid-19 in the 12-15 age cohort will begin on Wednesday and initially take place only at government vaccination centres across India till Biological E, the maker of Corbevax, announces the price of its vaccine for the private sector, according to people familiar with the matter.
“For now, it will be available only at government vaccination facilities,” a central government official said on condition of anonymity. “Once the company (Biological E) notifies its rate for private hospitals, as was done by Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech, then private hospitals can also procure and its vaccine will also be available at private Covid vaccination centres.”
Covid-19 vaccination will be open for all children born on or before March 15, 2010, the government said in its guidelines issued on Tuesday. Earlier, children born on or before 2007 were allowed to take the shots under the national immunisation programme.
The registration for vaccinating the children will open at 9am on March 16. It can be done through self-registration in an existing account of a family member on the government’s CoWIN portal, or by creating a new account through a unique mobile number, the guidelines said. It can also be done through on-site registration by the vaccinator.
Appointments can be booked online or on-site. Vaccination of the 12-15 age cohort will be conducted through dedicated inoculation sessions to avoid unintended inoculation with any other Covid-19 vaccines than the mandated Corbevax.
“In one of its meetings about three months ago, NTAGI decided that chances of developing severe disease are 5-6 times higher in children with co-morbidities. There are about 10-15% children in the age group of 12-15 years who suffer from some co-morbidities,” said NK Arora, chairman of the Covid-19 working group of National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI). “Therefore, it was decided to start Covid-19 vaccination in this age group also.”
The national Covid-19 vaccination programme has covered 95.5% of the eligible population aged 15 years and above with at least one vaccine dose; at least 80% of adolescents in this age group are fully vaccinated.
“It is also important in the context of current Covid-19 situation in China, where cases are on the rise; and a new variant having been identified that is a mix of Delta and Omicron,” said Arora. “WHO SAGE guidelines say that after adults are covered, children should also get vaccinated if supplies are available.”
WHO SAGE is short for the World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization.
The central government on Tuesday released guidelines for Covid-19 vaccination of children between 12-15 years of age that will begin from Wednesday, and said only Corbevax vaccine of Biological E will be used for the beneficiaries of the cohort.
“Keeping in mind the evolving situation of the Covid-19 pandemic and the emerging evidence, the expert group has decided to expand Covid-19 vaccination programme to children aged 21 to 14 years from March 2022. Only Corbevax would be used for these beneficiaries in the age group of 12 to 13 years, and 13-14 years in government CVCs (covid-19 vaccination centres) in view of vaccine security issues and limited availability of other Covid-19 vaccines approved for this age group,” health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in a letter to states.
“The vaccinator and verifier should ensure that beneficiaries less than 12 years on the date of vaccination are not vaccinated even if he/she is registered on CoWIN,” the letter added.
Corbevax is a protein sub-unit vaccine that is given in two doses intramuscularly at an interval of 28 days.
“Vaccination for 12 to 14 years old children is a very wise and welcome step taken by the government of India. It will help to make our schools safer places for these vulnerable children,” said Dr Arvind Taneja, chief advisor, paediatrics and infectious diseases, Max Smart Super Specialty Hospital, Saket. “The licensed vaccines are very safe in children, have negligible side effects, and give an excellent protection from serious Covid 19 disease.”
Also, a precautionary dose can now be provided to all persons aged 60 years and above. The prioritization and sequencing of this dose would be based on completion of nine months of 39 weeks from the date of administration of the second dose. The third dose should be with the same vaccine with which the primary vaccination was done, official rules mandate.