Dr NK Arora, chairman of India’s COVID-19 Working Group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), on Sunday, said that PM Modi’s decision to vaccinate adolescents aged 15-18 years from January 3 is a ‘good new year gift’. He stated it is a necessary move as data suggests that 2/3rd deaths caused due to the coronavirus were between the same age group.
The Covid task force chief has said the country already has a vaccine for children, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, which has shown it has a very good immune response in them in trials.
His comments come ahead of the vaccination drive for those between 15-18 years of age from January 3, 2022, which was announced by PM Modi on December 25 amid rising Covid-19 cases linked to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
“Children between the age of 12 and 18 years, particularly those in the age group of 15 to 18 years, are very much like adults. Our research within the country also says that almost two-thirds of the deaths which occurred due to Covid in India are within this age group. So, this decision was mainly taken to protect the adolescents,” Arora told ANI in an interview.
He also listed two other advantages of immunising adolescents against Covid-19.
“One is that they are quite mobile, they have to go to the school colleges and their risk of getting an infection, particularly in the light of Omicron, is present,” he explained.
“Secondly, many times these adolescents get infection into their households where elderly and those with comorbidities can get infected. So, in view of all this, the country has decided to introduce vaccination for children between 15 to 18 years,” he said.
“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,” he said.
“Although the disease’s effects are much milder, but as we know many schools have opened. A lot of parents are still not very confident in sending their children to schools,” he added.
“So this vaccination drive will also be giving confidence to them. I would say it’s a great New Year gift for our adolescents.”
India started its inoculation drive earlier this year on January 16 for adults above the age of 18.