After inoculating about 7.5 crore in 15-18 set, the Government will take a decision on vaccination for those below 15 years of age , Dr NK Arora, chairperson of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) said on Monday.
In an interaction with BusinessLine, Arora said that keeping in mind the safety issue, children in different age groups can be covered for vaccination based on their vulnerability.
“We can’t ignore the safety issue among children. With the experience gained by vaccinating those in the 15-18 set, we will take a further call on covering younger children. To vaccinate those up to 5 years of age, who hardly develop severe diseases, is illogical. We will try to cover all children based on their vulnerability,” Arora said.
Arora said adequate Covaxin doses are available for children while other vaccines, too, are being considered. However, according to the NTAGI chief, the use of vaccines, especially Zydus Cadila’s ZyCovD, will be decided upon only after its usage on adults has been monitored for some duration.
“Covaxin is already available for children. Clinical trials of Serum Institute of India’s Covovax and Biological E’s Corbevax have been done in children, too, which will likely be rolled out in 7-10 days. ZyCov D had been rolled out in some States for adults and will be used in children after assessing it in adults. So, we will have enough doses,” Arora said. “Besides Covaxin, other jabs too will be administered in children after their usage in adults,” he added.
The NTAGI chief also said precautionary doses, or the third shot, will be made available for the adult population in a staggered manner. For the moment, the precautionary dose is available for frontline and healthcare workers, and the elderly with co-morbid conditions. He said other adults will also be “eligible for precautionary doses with time”.
Arora said India is far better prepared for a surge in terms of healthcare infrastructure, pace of vaccination and availability of oxygen, medicines and ICU beds.
“We have strengthened health infrastructure in the last 8-9 months. There is no need to panic because of the availability of oxygen beds, ICU, ventilators, trained doctors and paramedical staff this time. Oxygen plants have been installed at district level hospitals. There won’t be any problem with availability of basic drugs like Dexamethasone and Remdesivir this time. Also, medicines needed for severe Covid disease are in sufficient quantity,” Arora said.
The NTAGI chief is not in favour of complete lockdown or shutting down.
“We have to be cautious all the time and masks are the biggest weapon in our fight against Covid . More than social distancing, it is important to avoid visiting markets, social gatherings and other crowded places. Complete lockdown is not a solution as it will lead to economic disruption. It is important to impose restrictions because it’s a new year and people tend to have a lot of gatherings during this time,” he said.