COVID-19 vaccine for 12-14 years from March 16
The Centre has decided to start COVID-19 vaccination for the 12-14 age groups (those born in 2008, 2009 and 2010. i.e those who are already above 12 years of age) from March 16.
In a release issued on Monday, the Union Health Ministry said the decision was taken after due deliberations with scientific bodies. The vaccine to be administered would be Corbevax, manufactured by Biological E. Limited, Hyderabad.
Those above 14 years are already being administered COVID-19 vaccine.
Experts differ on actual benefits
The announcement brought mixed reaction from the medical fraternity. Dr. J.P. Muliyil, epidemiologist at CMC Vellore and a member of the working group of National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) said there had to be tangible benefits of the vaccine. “In case of children, COVID-19 infection has so far proven to be non-serious and those infected have shown to have good natural immunity. There then seems to be no logical reason for vaccinating children,” he stated.
Omicron, which had infected a large section of the population including children, seems to have passed on lasting natural immunity that leaves us in a robust state, he added.
Dose for above 60
The Ministry has also decided that the condition of comorbidity for COVID-19 precaution dose for the population of over 60 years will be removed from March 16.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted in Hindi stating that if the children were safe, then the country was safe. “I am happy to inform that the COVID vaccination of children in the age group of 12 to 13 and 13 to 14 is starting from March 16. Also, everyone aged 60 years and above will now be able to get precaution doses,” he stated. He urged the families of children and people in the age group of 60 and above to get the vaccination done.
Dr. Gauri Agarwal, founder-director, Seeds of Innocence and Genestrings Diagnostics, said the government’s decision was a positive step as most schools across the country have opened and children started taking offline classes.
“The third wave of coronavirus has passed and adult vaccination rates are rapidly approaching their full potential. In this scenario, vaccinating children will aid in the fight against future COVID-19 outbreaks. This will boost herd immunity, protecting people with a weak immune system. The success rate of the vaccination of children, which will begin on March 16, will be used to determine whether children under the age of 12 should be vaccinated. More research will be needed to evaluate whether or not children under the age of 12 need the vaccine,’’ she explained.
2,503 new cases
Meanwhile, India reported 2,503 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, making it the lowest in 680 days so far.
“With this, India’s active caseload at 36,168 becomes lowest in 675 days. Active cases now constitute 0.08% of the country’s total positive cases. Consequently, India’s recovery rate stands at 98.72%. Also 4,377 patients have recovered in the last 24 hours and the cumulative tally of recovered patients (since the beginning of the pandemic) is now at 4,24,41,449. The last 24 hours saw a total of 5,32,232 COVID-19 tests being conducted. India has so far conducted over 77.90 Cr (77,90,52,383) cumulative tests,”’ noted a release from the Ministry.