NEW DELHI: COvaxin is the only vaccine available for the 15-17 age group, vaccination for whom will begin on January 3. For, only Covaxin and ZyCoV-D have been granted emergency use authorisation for that age group, but the latter hasn’t been rolled out yet.
As for healthcare and frontline workers and people aged 60 and above with comorbid-ities, booster shots can be had only 39 weeks or about 9 months after the second dose.
Adolescents born in 2007 or before can register on Co-WIN to book vaccine slots or can simply walk into vaccination centres, the Union health ministry said in a document.
Co-WIN chief Dr RS Sharma told media that adolescents can begin registering from January 1 and can use their student ID cards as proof.
For the booster dose, the document did not clarify what type of vaccine will be available, but officials said it will be the same vaccine as the two doses before.
The administration of the booster, termed “precaution dose” by the government, is set to begin on January 10.
“Co-WIN system will send SMS to such beneficiaries for availing the precaution dose when the dose becomes due. Registration and appointment services can be accessed through both, the online and the onsite modes,” the ministry said in the document.
The government is looking at an additional eight crore beneficiaries in the 15-17 year age group, three crore healthcare and frontline workers and nearly 10-12 crore people aged 60 and above with co-morbidities.
Senior citizens with underlying conditions will simply need to choose a slot and centre for the booster shot if they go via Co-WIN, provided the the nine-month interval is over, but they will need to show a comorbidity certificate from a qualified doctor at the vaccination centre.
Meanwhile, a meeting of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation is being called on Monday to further discuss the nitty-gritty of rolling out booster doses. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the programmes for adolescent vaccinations and booster shots on Saturday night.
Children aged between 15 and 18 years would be able to register on the CoWIN portal from January 1 and the vaccine option for them would only be Covaxin, officials said on Monday as preparations are underway to start inoculating children against COVID-19 from January 3.
"Children aged between 15 and 18 years would be able to register on the CoWIN portal from January 1," CoWIN chief Dr RS Sharma said on Monday.
The vaccine option for those in the 15-18 age group would only be Covaxin, according to the "Guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination of children between 15-18 years and precaution dose to HCWs, FLWs and 60+ population with comorbidities" issued by the Union health ministry on Monday.
According to the guidelines, which will come into effect from January 3, those aged 15 and above will be able to register on CoWIN.
In other words, "all those whose birth year is 2007" or before, shall be eligible.
An additional provision has been made on CoWIN through which students can register for vaccination on the portal using their student identity cards as some may not have Aadhaar or other ID cards, Sharma said.
The beneficiaries (aged 15-18 years) can register themselves online through an existing account on Co-WIN or by creating a new account through a unique mobile number.
This facility is available for all eligible citizens presently.
Such beneficiaries can also be registered at the vaccination sites by the verifier or the vaccinator in the facilitated registration mode and appointments can be booked online or on-site (walk-in), the guidelines stated.
In a televised address to the nation on Saturday night, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that vaccination against COVID-19 for children aged between 15 and 18 years will start from January 3, while a "precaution dose" for the healthcare and frontline workers would be administered from January 10 -- decisions that came amid a rising number of coronavirus cases linked to its Omicron variant.
Modi said the precaution dose will also be available for citizens above 60 years of age and with comorbidities on the advice of their doctors from January 10.
Zydus Cadila's anti-Covid vaccine ZyCoV-D is yet to be introduced in the country's inoculation programme even for adults, though it received the Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) from the drug regulator on August 20, making it the first vaccine to be administered in the age group of 12-18 years in the country.
The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) granted the EUA to indigenously-developed Covaxin for children above 12 years with certain conditions on Friday.
Meanwhile, the Congress and the Centre were at loggerheads on Monday over COVID-19 vaccination targets, with senior leader of the opposition party P Chidambaram saying the government claim of vaccinating entire adult population by December 31 "has gone up in smoke" and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan hitting back at the party for "spreading disinformation".
Former home minister Chidambaram lashed out at the alleged sluggish pace of inoculation against the viral disease and claimed that the government's "protectionist" policy has led to Pfizer, Moderna and other WHO-approved vaccines being kept out of India on one pretext or other.
"Which is why we do not have enough vaccines to administer two doses to the 94 crore population," he said.
"The tall claim of the government that the entire adult population will be fully vaccinated by December 31 has gone up in smoke. The start of the booster dose, while it is absolutely necessary, will further expose the demand-supply gap," Chidambaram said on Twitter.
Earlier, Union Education Minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Pradhan described Congress leaders as "compulsive naysayers" who are out to "seeding panic, creating fear and spreading disinformation".
Chidambaram also alleged that the booster dose proposal is "shrouded in confusion".
"Which is the booster dose vaccine for Covishield? Not another dose of Covishield, I hope. The chicken have come home to roost. We are paying the price for delayed orders, delayed payment, non-licensing of Pfizer & Moderna, and insufficient production and supply," he tweeted.
Hitting out at Chidambaram, Pradhan said, "The sadist attitude of Congress and its coterie on every progressive step India takes never fails to surprise!" "First, they misled people over safety of our homemade vaccines, stoked vaccine hesitancy and created panic by doubting the collective capability of our country," he tweeted.
"And, now when India is yet again taking proactive steps to effectively manage the Omicron variant, flower-pot-farmers and compulsive naysayers are doing what they are best at -- seeding panic, creating fear and spreading disinformation," Pradhan said.
The minister noted that many developed countries are facing the brunt of Omicron despite depending upon the said vaccines.
"Also, Chidambaram ji, let me remind you it was the Congress government that sold vaccines for profit. Your intent to deceive will not derail India's fight against the pandemic," he wrote on Twitter.
The country had launched the Covid vaccination drive on January 16 and set a target to achieve 100 per cent vaccination for the first dose by December 31.
As on Monday night, the country had administered 142.47 crore doses of Covid vaccines, with nearly 84 crore beneficiaries receiving the first dose and over 58.5 crore receiving both the jabs.
(With PTI Inputs)