After weeks of uncertainty, the central government has now clarified that the third precautionary dose to be administered to frontline health workers and people with co-morbidities will be the same as the first two doses. Earlier, the government had hinted at administering beneficiaries with a dose of a different vaccine than that administered previously. NITI Aayog member and health expert Dr Vinod K Paul told media that those beneficiaries who have previously been jabbed with Covaxin will be vaccinated with Covaxin, likewise those previously vaccinated by Covishield will be vaccinated by Covishield vaccine.
Dr Paul further said the government is going to see the data that is emerging about mixing of vaccines and the heterologous approach. As announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the precautionary dose will be administered to the eligible population from January 10. The administration of the third “precautionary” dose will also reflect in the vaccine certificate issued by the CoWIN platform.
Conceding that the country is reporting a large number of Coronavirus cases due to the new Omicron variant, Dr Paul said that the surge in cases is primarily being driven by the new Omicron variant. In the same press conference, Dr Balram Bhargav, director general, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said that the Omicron variant has become the predominant strain circulating in the Indian cities. Dr Bhargav further said that mass gatherings and large-scale events should be avoided to lower the spread of the disease.
Sharing details about the vaccination drive for children that began on January 3, Dr Paul said that more than 1 crore teens between the age of 15-18 have received their first dose so far. He further said that as per the estimates of the government, there are about 7 crore eligible adolescents in this age group and at this speed the government expects to vaccinate all of them pretty quickly.