Amid rising cases, the Centre has just rolled out COVID vaccination for those aged 15 to 18. “In other words, all those whose birth year is 2007 or before shall be eligible,” said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).
The Centre has advised States and Union Territories to put in place separate facilities to administer vaccinations to the teenagers. This includes separate vaccination centres, queues, session sites, and medical teams. The aim is to make the process smoother and avoid inadvertent mixing of formulations.
By 9 pm on Sunday, nearly 7 lakh children were registered on the CoWIN platform to receive vaccinations, said media reports. Per MoHFW estimates, over 7.4 crore children in the country are eligible for the vaccination, so there’s still a long way to go.
Covaxin for all
The Centre has recommended only Covaxin, the indigenous formulation manufactured by Bharat Biotech, for the teens. “For such beneficiaries, option for vaccination would only be available for Covaxin, as this is the only vaccine with EUL (emergency use listing) for the age-group 15-18,” said the MoHFW.
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They shall receive two doses of Covaxin 28 days apart. The Delhi government has instructed class teachers to inform parents about the nearest vaccination centre. Other State governments have also roped in schools and teachers in their vaccination drive.
Media reports said the vaccines are priced on par with adults. So, Covaxin will be available for free at government run healthcare centres, while the market price is ₹1,200 a shot.
“All those aged 15 years or more will be able to register on CoWIN,” said the MoHFW. “Beneficiaries can self-register online through an existing account on CoWIN or can also register by creating a new account through a unique mobile number — this facility is available for all eligible citizens presently.”
Walk-in registration is also allowed, said the Ministry. “Such beneficiaries can also be registered onsite by the verifier/vaccinator in facilitated registration mode,” it said on its website.
Apart from Aadhaar and other identity cards, children are allowed to use their Standard 10 ID card for registration.
How safe is it?
There was a lot of vaccine hesitancy when it was rolled out for adults, before the drive caught on. Now, a sizeable portion of adults are similarly worried about the side-effects on their children.
However, healthcare experts pointed out that the Centre went ahead with the decision to vaccinate children only after a careful assessment of the formulations. Also, global data have indicated that 75% of COVID deaths in children have been in the 15-18 age group, media reports said. The decision to introduce vaccines in that age group first was based on that.
The rising number of Omicron cases also calls for robust vaccination, since the variant spreads very fast. Further, closing schools and colleges and moving academics entirely to online mode is as hard on the children as it is on the educators, as the past two years have shown. A successful vaccination drive will make physical classes safer and ensure uninterrupted academics.