BENGALURU: The much-awaited approval for the third Covid-19 shot for healthcare workers, is likely to come in a week’s time. According to confirmed sources, there has been an increase in demand for booster shots by healthcare workers, who are directly in contact with Covid patients.
“Many of our healthcare workers are not only getting reinfected, but their antibodies are also waning. We have already submitted a proposal for the demand, and are expecting to get approval in the coming week,” said a senior doctor from Private Hospitals And Nursing Homes Association (PHANA), requesting anonymity.
Meanwhile, healthcare and frontline workers expressed concern that it’s already been five-six months since many of them took their second shot, and antibody tests show they are on the wane. “Considering the possibility of future waves, Delta variant and ‘long Covid’, booster shots for this segment should be given priority. There are no supply issues too. We’ve heard that the proposal will be approved soon,” said a senior doctor from Victoria Hospital.
Agreeing to this, Dr T Jacob John, renowned virologist from Christian Medical College, Vellore, said, “It is proven scientifically and immunologically, that healthcare workers should be given priority for a booster dose, which is ordinarily given six months after the first schedule of the two doses. This is the right interval for the booster dose.”
Explaining that the government’s planning matters, he said the available doses can be divided into three categories -- for healthcare workers, for those whose second dose is due, and those who have not yet taken the first dose. There should be a policy to include priority booster doses for healthcare workers aged above 55. Meanwhile, healthcare experts are also demanding that booster doses be given to vaccinated people with low antibody levels.
A senior doctor and vaccine expert from Karnataka explained, “Though the antibody level is 30,000 to 40,000 in some Covid-infected people, it is below 50 in a significant number of vaccinated individuals. If the antibody level is 60 to 100, we can say the person is antibody positive. Such people can definitely be given the third dose.” Interestingly, there are unconfirmed reports that some healthcare workers have already taken the booster dose without Cowin registration.
Karnataka’s Technical Advisory Committee has proposed that a letter recommending reducing the interval between the first and second dose of Covishield, be sent to the central government for consideration. “As vaccine supplies have improved, and in the context of a possible third wave in October and November, TAC recommends reducing the interval from 84 days to 4-8 weeks, as was the practice earlier,” the committee recommended.
A senior doctor, on condition of anonymity, said the government is likely to reduce the gap to less than 60 days. “The announcement may come early next week. There is tremendous pressure on the government for this, and an urgency to clear vaccine stocks, not just in Karnataka but other states too,” explained the doctor.