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3 Jan 2022

India aims to Vaccinate Children before a Feared Omicron Surge

The Index Today

India started vaccinating children (ages 15 to 18) with Bharat Biotech's Covaxin against the coronavirus on Monday as the country wants to quickly expand its inoculation effort to cover the world's largest adolescent population amid fears the Omicron variant will drive a new surge of infections.

Authorities in Gujarat aims to give a first dose to 3.6 million children this week. The health ministry of India reported on Monday that 33,750 new COVID-19 cases and 123 deaths. The total number of cases of the fast-spreading Omicron variant detected in India was 1,700.

Private and public schools will double up as vaccination centers for children and school authorities have been ordered to report their daily vaccination data to state authorities.

Jai Prakash Shivahare, Health Commissioner in Gujarat state "Children are going to be given vaccines in their schools. They can also go to vaccination centers and get the dose ... they can just walk in."

"We have the capacity and we have the vaccines to cover most of the children. We appeal to parents to cooperate and ensure the children are vaccinated at the earliest," Shivahare added.

The U.N. children's agency UNICEF estimates India has the largest population of adolescents in the world with about 253 million of them.

Starting early on Monday, thousands of children, many accompanied by parents, queued up outside schools, medical centres and special health camps to secure the slot for their first dose of vaccine.

The health ministry said last week, that they are only giving children Bharat Biotech's Covaxin vaccine as that is the only vaccine with emergency use listing for the 15-18 age group.

While the adults in India get Covaxin, the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is branded as Covishield, and the Sputnik V shot.


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