Children between 15 and 18 years will be vaccinated from January 3 (Monday) and booster doses will be given to health and frontline workers and those above 60 with other health problems, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Christmas Day.
Earlier today, Covaxin was cleared for children above 12 by the drug regulator. The move has to be cleared by the government.
In an address to the nation, the Prime Minister said the decision to start vaccinating children in the New Year had been taken in consultation with scientific advisers.
He also said “precaution doses” will be started for health care and front-line workers from January 10.
Those over 60 with other health problems will also receive extra doses from January 10 on their doctor’s advice.
“Coronavirus is not gone. We need to be alert and cautious. The world is talking about Omicron. Today is Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birthday and Christmas, so we decided to announce this step today,” PM Modi said.
On the uptick in Omicron cases, PM Modi urged people not to panic and be alert.
“In India, many people have been found to be infected with Omicron. I would urge all of you not to panic, be careful and alert. Remember to wash hands and mask,” the Prime Minister said.
India has 415 Omicron cases as of today. Amid a surge in cases in various parts of the country, the Health Ministry said multi-disciplinary Central teams would be deployed in 10 states.
The government’s decision to vaccinate children comes after much back-and-forth between various panels even as doctors’ bodies called for it.
The Centre had recently told parliament the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 and National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization were deliberating and considering scientific evidences.