Booster doses on the way! Here’s why India gears up for this ‘precautionary dose’

PM Modi in a surprise address to the nation on December 25 announced that cpvod-19 vaccination for children in the 15-18 age group will start from January 3.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also urged public to not panic and not give up the routine of wearing face masks and washing hands

The World Health Organisation has stated that the booster doses of covid vaccines should be introduced based on firm evidence, for those groups who are at higher risk of serious infection and for the frontline workers. The evidence till date indicates “minimal to modest” reduction of protection provided by the vaccine against the disease over six months after the second dose of vaccine.

Here is the evidence that supports the above claims. The WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on December 7 conducted a review of about 18 studies on vaccine efficacy. The studies that were included were conducted between June 17 and December 2, including the ones that took place in India. The vaccines that were reviewed includes Pfizer, AstraZeneca (covishield in India), Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

The review was conducted to understand and estimate the average change in vaccine effectiveness (VE) from 1-6 months on those who are fully vaccinated. For those with symptomatic disease, VE reduced by 32 per cent for older adults (above 50) and 25.4 per cent for all ages.

Also Read: Booster dose of Covishield is able to protect from Omicron variant, finds Oxford University research

For those with severe infection, the VE decreased by 9.7 per cent for older adults, and 8 per cent for all ages. The review summarised that: Moderate decrease in VE after 6 months for infection and any symptomatic disease. The review showed minimal reduction of VE over time against the severe infection, continued follow-up of vaccine effectiveness is needed after 6 months, and the impact of omicron on waning vaccine effectiveness is yet unknown.

When will India start with the booster doses?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a surprise address to the nation on December 25 announced that cpvod-19 vaccination for children in the 15-18 age group will start from January 3. Healthcare and frontline workers will be inoculated with a booster dose, as he called “precaution dose” from January 10, 2022. This “precaution dose” option will also be available for citizens above the age of 60 with co-morbidities. They can get incoluted after taking advice from their doctor.

Among many things, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also urged public to not panic and not give up the routine of wearing face masks and washing hands. The big announcement of vaccinating children and about booster doses came following the country’s drug regulator decision to grant emergency use authorisation (EUA) to Covaxin vaccine for vaccinating children in the 12-18 age group. Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, with this approval, becomes the second vaccine to receive an EUA for the 12-18 age group. The drug regulator had earlier given a green-signal to Zydus Cadila’s DNA Covid-19 vaccine for children above the age of 12.

Also Read: A booster shot or an additional Covid-19 vaccine: Which one is better for you? Find out

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also said India will soon introduce a nasal Covid-19 vaccine and DNA vaccine. The decision to introduce precaution dose will help build confidence of corona warriors– healthcare and frontline workers. Even today, these frontline and healthcare workers are putting an immense amount of time and hard work into treating patients. And, because of this, the government has taken a decision that a precautionary dose will begin shortly for healthcare and frontline workers. This will begin from January 10, 2022,” PM Modi added.

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