Kids 15-18 to get Covaxin jab; can register on Cowin from January 1

Student ID cards can be used for registration, Booster doses after 39 weeks of second jab

New Delhi: About 80 million children in the age group of 15-18 years would be inoculated against Covid-19 with Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin from January 3. The Union health ministry said on Monday that all children who were born in 2007 or earlier can register themselves for the Covid-19 vaccine on the CoWIN app from January 1, 2022.

The ministry said there would be an additional provision on the CoWIN app through which students can register for vaccinations using their student identity cards as some may not have Aadhaar or other ID cards. The beneficiaries (aged 15-18 years) can register themselves online either 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 at present.

In a fresh set of guidelines, the ministry said 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 ministry made it clear that the prioritisation and sequencing of the “precaution” (booster or third) vaccine dose for healthcare workers (HCWs), frontline workers (FLWs) and citizens above 60 years with co-morbidities would be based on completion of nine months from the date of administration of the second dose, which is 39 weeks, and will come into effect from January 3.

The guidelines said that Covaxin was the only vaccine available with EUL (emergency use listing) for the age-group 15-17. But they did not specify whether there would be a mixing of vaccines for getting the “precaution” dose for the 60-plus and others or if they would be inoculated with the same vaccine as their first two shots.

The need for the “precaution” dose and inoculation of children has been necessitated by the recent spread of the Omicron variant, with India reporting 160 fresh cases, the highest single-day rise in Omicron infections, taking the total tally of such cases to 581 across 20 states and Union territories. The increase in Omicron cases was 37 per cent more than the previous day’s figures.

Delhi alone had a maximum number of 142 Omicron cases, followed by Maharashtra at 141, Kerala 57, Gujarat 49, Rajasthan 46 and Telangana 41 cases. Delhi also saw 331 new Covid-19 cases -- the highest single-day rise since June 9, and one death in the last 24 hours. The positivity rate in the city has jumped to 0.68 per cent.

In the last 24 hours, India’s Covid-19 tally has gone up to 3,47,93,333, with 6,531 people testing positive for the deadly infection. The death toll due to Covid-19 rose to 4,79,997 on Monday, with 315 fresh fatalities in the past 24 hours.

Amid the growing spread of Omicron, Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla issued another advisory to all states and Union territories to continue their focus on the “five-fold strategy” -- Test-Track-Treat-Vaccination and adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour -- to check the spread of the disease. He asked the states/UTs to consider imposing need-based local curbs and restrictions to control crowds during the festive season.

The advisory read: “The country has witnessed an overall decline in active cases. However, the new variant, Omicron, is reported to be at least three times more transmissible than the Delta VOC, and is posing a new challenge for Covid containment measures.”

The home secretary said that globally, Omicron cases have already been reported in 116 countries. Further, a surge in cases is also being reported across various countries, especially in the United States, Britain, Europe (France, Italy, Spain), Russia, South Africa, Vietnam, Australia, etc.

Mr Bhalla said the state enforcement machinery should strictly enforce the norms of Covid-appropriate behaviour. “With a view to discouraging any misinformation in respect of the new VOC, which creates anxiety among the public, all states/UTs should proactively and regularly hold media briefings at the highest level to disseminate the right information to them.”

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