New Delhi: Centre on Monday said children between 15 and 18 can register for COVID-19 vaccines on the CoWIN app from January 1 using their school ID cards.
CoWIN chief Dr RS Sharma told news agency that an additional slot had been created on the online platform so students could use their ID cards to register for the shots. This is because some may not have Aadhaar or other required ID cards, he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Saturday, had said children in the 15-18 age group could get their first round of Covid vaccines from January 3.
The Prime Minister, who also announced “precaution” or booster shots for frontline and healthcare workers, as well as those over 60, said vaccinating kids – something other countries have already done – would help schools and students return to normal.
Children in India will be vaccinated with one of two shots – either Bharat Biotech’s double-dose Covaxin or Zydus Cadila’s three-dose ZyCoV-D, both of which have been cleared for kids over 12.
The drug controller has cleared Serum Institute’s Novavax for trials on kids between seven and 11 years of age, and Biological E’s Corbevax has been cleared for trials on children over five.
Neither Novavax nor Corbevax have been cleared for use as yet.
Dr NK Arora, chief of India’s immunisation task force, told ANI yesterday Covaxin showed very good immune response in tests on the 15-18 age group.
India is trailing several other countries – including many in Europe, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, and New Zealand – in offering Covid vaccines for kids.
The decision to start vaccinating children comes amid an alarming increase in Covid cases in schools.
On Saturday at least 17 girls from a school in Chhattisgarh’s Raigarh district tested positive.
Earlier this week 52 children at a school in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar returned positive tests, after which 450 others were also tested and their results are awaited.
Last week a school in Karnataka’s Chikkamagaluru district was sealed after 10 students and a teacher were positive. Before that 69 people, including 59 students, tested positive in the same school.
Earlier this month 18 students also tested positive at a Mumbai school also.
However, the decision has met with mixed responses, with some, including parents, expressing concern over possible side-effects on younger recipients.
They have pointed to rising Covid cases – fuelled partly by the (relatively more vaccine-resistant) Omicron strain – to question the need to vaccinate kids, who are believed to be a low-risk group.
India has, so far, administered 141.7 crore vaccine doses, but only 58.1 crore are the second dose.
This morning over 6,500 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the past 24 hours – a 6.5 per cent drop from yesterday. However, there was a massive 37 per cent increases in Omicron Covid cases, which went up from 422 on Sunday to 578 this morning.