Omicron outbreak: India monitoring hospitalisation data of kids across the world

In many countries, children and adolescents, aged 5 and above, have either not received any Covid vaccine at all or have not been administered with booster doses yet. 

Published: 04th January 2022 03:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th January 2022 09:33 AM   |  A+A-

A health staff administers vaccine for COVID-19 to teens at a school in Kolkata, India, Monday, Jan. 3, 2022. (Photo | AP)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  Health officials are monitoring Covid hospitalisation rates among children in India amid some evidence that a few countries are seeing higher numbers of kids in hospitals in the ongoing Omicron wave.

In many countries, children and adolescents, aged 5 and above, have either not received any Covid vaccine at all or have not been administered with booster doses yet. 

In the US, for instance, while the Omicron variant so far doesn’t appear more severe than other strains in youngsters, the growing number of cases means more children are susceptible to serious illness.

As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data available on December 31, new hospital admissions of kids were up by 66% to 378 a day on average for the week.

The US health agency has said that the majority of hospitalized kids are unvaccinated. 

The US has been reporting nearly 5.5 lakh-6 lakh new cases every day.

These figures on kids’ hospitalization assume significance for India where the kids have not been vaccinated so far and the inoculation for the 15-17 year olds began only on Monday. 

Following an announcement on starting vaccination for the age group, Covid Task Force chairman N K Arora had defended the decision saying that maximum deaths—among under 18—had been registered in this age group. 

Officials in the health ministry said states were asked to keep a watch on hospitalization trends as the daily cases as well as active Covid cases rise rapidly. The data is also being monitored centrally.

“So far, we are not seeing any pattern clearly but things might change in a few days as there is always a lag between detection of new infection and hospitalization rate,” a senior ministry official said. 

As per the latest available information shared by the Centre, out of an inventory of 7.2 lakh hospital beds, there are 64,000 paediatric beds available in the country, apart from 24,000 paediatric ICU beds.

Some officials conceded that as Covid preparations earlier were being carried out with a maximum of 5-6 lakh daily cases in mind, the situation could get tricky if the daily detections were higher.

Over 41 lakh children in the age group of 15 to 18 years received Covid vaccine doses till 8 pm on the first day of the inoculation drive for this group of beneficiaries.

The cumulative Covid vaccine doses administered in the country crossed 146.61 crore with more than 98 lakh shots being administered on Monday till 10.15 pm.

According to the Health Ministry, the daily vaccination tally is expected to increase with the compilation of the final reports for the day by late in the night.

"Well done Young India! Over 40 lakh between 15-18 age group received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine on the first day of vaccination drive for children, till 8 pm. This is another feather in the cap of India's vaccination drive," Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted.

Over 53 lakh youngsters have registered on the CoWIN portal till 10.15 pm after the process began on January 1 for this category.

During the day, Mandaviya visited the Covid vaccination site for children at the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and interacted with some of the beneficiaries.

"Visited RML Hospital and took stock of the vaccination campaign for children in the age group of 15-18 years. Interacted with the children and asked them to motivate their friends for the vaccine," he said in a tweet.

Co-WIN Chief and CEO of National Health Authority Dr R S Sharma said, "We have received a good response. Children are coming forward to get vaccinated and the numbers today itself are very significant."

Sharma said necessary provisions and changes have been made on the digital platform to include the new category of beneficiaries.

The health ministry in a tweet said, "Only Covaxin approved for less than 18 yrs. Eighteen plus (ie born in 2004 or before) are eligible for all vaccines, including Covishield. For 15-17 years (born in 2005, 2006, 2007) eligible only for Covaxin. Validations in place in Co-WIN."

The vaccine option for this age group is only Covaxin, according to guidelines issued by the Union Health Ministry on December 27.

The Drugs Controller General of India granted emergency use authorisation to indigenously-developed Bharat Biotech's Covaxin for children above 12 years with certain conditions on December 24.

The registration for this category of beneficiaries opened on Saturday.

According to the guidelines, they can self-register online through an existing account on CoWIN or can also register by creating a new account through a unique mobile number as is the case with all other categories of beneficiaries.

They can also get themselves registered onsite.

The countrywide vaccination drive was rolled out on January 16 last year with healthcare workers getting inoculated in the first phase.

The vaccination of frontline workers started from February 2.

The next phase of COVID-19 vaccination commenced from March 1 for people over 60 years of age and those aged 45 and above with specified co-morbid conditions.

The country launched vaccination for all people aged more than 45 years from April 1.

The government then decided to expand its vaccination drive by allowing everyone above 18 to be vaccinated from May 1.

COVID-19 vaccination for adolescents in the age group of 15-18 years commenced from January 3.

(With PTI Inputs)


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