No urgency for vaccination to minors, say doctors

Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said the decision to start vaccination for minors would be taken based on experts’ recommendations

HYDERABAD: With the Centre expected to take a decision soon on extending vaccinations to minors below the age of 15 years, doctors advise a cautious approach, especially as the third wave is on the wane.

They say there is no immediate urgency for minors below the age of 15 to be inoculated, considering vaccines deemed safer or more effective, especially for minors, could become available soon.

Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Saturday that the decision to start vaccination for the 5-15 years age group would be taken based on experts’ recommendations, and until now they had not made any such recommendation.

The decision to begin vaccination for the 12-15 age group is under consideration by the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), and they are expected to approve it soon. Speaking on the issue, president, Infection Control Academy of India, Dr Ranga Reddy Burri said, “I am hoping Corbevax, a protein subunit vaccine, which in my opinion is much safer than mRNA and vector-based vaccines, can be made available for minors. Protein subunit vaccines are time tested, and safety is the prime concern for paediatric patients,” he said.

Dr Burri added that approval for inoculating the 5-12 years age group may take some time, as not enough studies had been done in the area. “About 99 per cent of children are either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic. For them, efficacy plays a secondary role, and safety a primary role. So, I think we should wait and see. We have to be absolutely sure of the long-term impact.”

Dr Kiran Madhala, HoD, Critical Care Medicine, Nizamabad Medical College, also echoed similar views. He said as the third wave was on the wane and India’s vaccine supply was good, there was no immediate urgency to vaccinate minors aged below 15, especially as better options could be available soon.

“We can wait for a nasal vaccine, as they provide better immunity and could be available in a couple of months,” he said. He added that for minors below the age of 12, no country had started vaccinations yet due to lack of studies.

A total of 832 minors aged between 0 and 15 were infected with Covid-19 in Hyderabad from January 1 to 23 this year.

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