Children’s vaccination begins: 41 lakh get first shot on Day 1

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OVER 41 lakh children received the first dose of Covid-19 vaccines on Monday, the first day of the vaccination drive for those in the age group of 15-18 years, according to provisional data.

While 41,27,468 doses of Covaxin were administered to the 15-18 years age group, the total vaccination figure touched 146.71 crore, according to provisional data. With 33,750 new cases being reported in the last 24 hours, the active caseload has touched 1,45,582; the daily positivity rate is 3.84 per cent.

“Today we have taken an important step forward in protecting our youth against Covid-19. Congrats to all my young friends between the age group of 15-18 who got vaccinated. Congrats to their parents as well. I would urge more youngsters to get vaccinated in the coming days,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

According to official data, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat topped the list of vaccinations (15-18 years group) on Monday. Madhya Pradesh reported 7,71,615 doses and Gujarat 5,55,312 doses. Three states reported over 3 lakh doses in this age group: Andhra Pradesh (4,87,269), Karnataka (4,14,723), and Rajasthan (3,57,018).

However, five big states administered just over 1 lakh doses in this age group: Uttar Pradesh (1,66,996); Maharashtra (1,81,561); West Bengal (1,03,564); Bihar (1,70,603); and Tamil Nadu (1,87,710). Five other states administered just over 50,000 doses: Odisha (82,756); Himachal Pradesh (72,808); Assam (77,124); Uttarakhand (72,075); and Haryana (66,217).

On December 25, less than a year after India rolled out one of the world’s largest adult Covid-19 vaccination drives, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced vaccination for children in the age group of 15-18 years. The decision came in the backdrop of rising cases of the highly transmissible Omicron variant across various pockets in the country, and schools and colleges re-opening in a phased manner.

A day before the rollout, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya held a meeting with the states on Sunday and asked them to ensure orientation of vaccination team members for the 15-18 years age group, and identification of dedicated session sites.

The states were asked to plan for distribution of Covaxin to the earmarked sites well in advance, as it is the only vaccine cleared for this age group. “To avoid the mixing-up of vaccines during administration, separate CVCs (Covid vaccination centres), session sites, queues (if at same session site where adult vaccination is ongoing) and separate vaccination team (if at same session site) are to be strived for,” Mandaviya told the states.

On Monday, just hours after some media reports alleged that expired vaccines were being administered, the Union Health Ministry issued a clarification stating that the reports were “false and misleading and based on incomplete information.” The ministry underlined that the shelf life of vaccines “is extended by the national regulator based on comprehensive analysis and examination of stability study data furnished by the vaccine manufacturers”.

“The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) on 25th October 2021, in response to M/s Bharat Biotech International Limited’s letter no: BBIL/RA/21/567 has approved the extension of shelf life of Covaxin (Whole Virion, Inactivated Coronavirus Vaccine) from 9 months to 12 months. Similarly, the shelf life of Covishield has been extended by the National Regulator from 6 months to 9 months on 22nd February 2021,” the ministry said.

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