New Delhi: Children in the age group of 15-18 can now register themselves for covid vaccines through their student ID card from January 1,two days before the vaccination programme is expanded across the country to include them, a top official said on Monday.
"We've added an additional (10th) ID card for registration, the student ID card, because some might not have Aadhaar or other identity cards," RS Sharma, chief executive officer of the National Health Authority, which also operates the government's CoWIN platform, was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced last Saturday children aged 15-18 would start receiving Covid-19 vaccinations from January 3 and healthcare and frontline workers will start getting the shots as a precautionary measure from January 10 as cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant rose across the country.
PM Modi also said those above 60 with comorbidities would be offered booster shots after recommendations from doctors.
Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, which has been granted approval for restricted use in an emergency situation in the age group between 12 and 18 years, is likely to be the only vaccine available for children, according to reports.
Covaxin is the second vaccine after Zydus Healthcare's ZyCoV-D that was approved for use in children aged 12 years and above.
Dr NK Arora, chairperson of Covid-19 working group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation in India (NTAGI), said on Sunday Covaxin has shown that it has a very good immune response in children in trials.
"In fact, it is slightly better than adults. Secondly, this vaccine is a safe vaccine, and even local effects like pain, swelling in the arms is much less as compared to adults. We would like to offer this protection to our adolescents," Arora said in an interview with news agency ANI.
"Our research within the country also says that almost two-thirds of the deaths below 18 years which occurred due to Covid in India are within this age group. So, this decision was mainly taken to protect the adolescents," he said.
Arora also said adolescents produce better levels of antibodies as compared to their adults.
"Here, I would also like to say that the same Covaxin dose is given to children as an adult and the interpretation between the doses is also four weeks. So as far as implementation of the programme is concerned, there is no special effort required. And immunization of these adolescents can be started within a short period without much or a specific preparation."
The number of doses for adolescents will be the same, Dr Arora also said.