Over 40 lakh 15-18 children given COVID-19 vaccine doses on first day

The Centre will also decide within the next two to three days which vaccine should be administered as a precaution dose

New Delhi: As India gears up to contain a new Covid-19 surge stoked by the highly infectious Omicron variant, over 40 lakh children in the 15-18 age group got their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on Monday. The Centre will also decide within the next two to three days which vaccine should be administered as a “precaution” dose to healthcare/frontline workers and senior citizens above 60 with co-morbidities from January 10.

“Well done Young India! Over 40 lakhs between 15-18 age received their first dose of the 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,” health minister Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted.

Amid the rising Covid-19 cases, the Centre has restricted the attendance of its employees below the level of undersecretary at all its departments to 50 per cent, and they have been asked to work from home. It has also directed its officers and staff to follow staggered timings in order to avoid the overcrowding of Central government offices.

Persons with disabilities and pregnant employees have been exempted from attending office. An order by the department of personnel directed the officers and staff residing in Covid-19 containment zones not to come to office until their location is de-notified. Even the biometric attendance of employees has been suspended with immediate effect.

As many as 1,838 Omicron cases have been detected across 23 states and Union territories so far. Maharashtra has the maximum number of 578 cases, followed by Delhi at 351 and Rajasthan 188.

India’s Covid-19 tally has also shot up to 3,49,22,882, with 33,750 fresh cases reported in the past 24 hours. The death toll has risen to 4,81,893 with 123 more fatalities in 24 hours. Active cases have risen to 1,45,582, comprising 0.42 per cent of total infections.

Delhi logged 4,099 fresh Covid-19 cases, up from 3,194 cases on Sunday. The city’s positivity rate has also jumped to 6.46 per cent, up from 4.59 per cent on Sunday. Under the Graded Response Action Plan, approved by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), if the positivity rate is over five per cent for two consecutive days, a “red” alert can be sounded, leading to a “total curfew” and a halt to almost all economic activities. The DDMA will meet on Tuesday to consider more restrictions to prevent the further spread of the deadly virus.

Haryana reported eight fresh Omicron cases, pushing the state’s tally of the new variant to 71. Twelve of the 71 cases are reported to be active, while the rest have been discharged.

In Mumbai, with Covid-19 hospitalisations going over 500 and 8,082 fresh cases detected on Monday, the civic authorities have decided to shut all schools, except for Classes 10 and 12, till January 31. Poll-bound Goa, which logged 631 fresh Covid-19 cases, with the positivity rate going up to 26.43 per cent, has also closed schools and colleges and imposed a night curfew.

As the vaccination of children began Monday, some centres had set up attractive selfie points, decorated with posters and colourful balloons, to greet teenagers as they got their first vaccine shots. Some students who turned up in their school uniforms were even greeted with flowers and pens after receiving Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin vaccine as their first shot.

On some social media reports alleging that children were being given expired vaccines, the health ministry reacted quickly, saying these were false and misleading reports based on incomplete information. The ministry said on October 25, 2021 the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) had approved the extension of the shelf life of Covaxin (Whole Virion, Inactivated Coronavirus Vaccine) from nine months to 12 months. Similarly, the shelf life of Covishield was extended by the regulator from six months to nine months on February 22, 2021.

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