Next plan should be to vaccinate children above 5 years: Health expert

New Delhi: Welcoming Centre’s decision to vaccinate children against COVID-19 in the age group of 15-18 years from coming January 3 amid Omicron threat, the Indian health experts said that there is a need for vaccinating children above 5-years-old and the next plan of the government should be to vaccinate them.

“It is a welcome decision. The next plan should be to vaccinate children above 5 years old. Paediatricians should be allowed to vaccinate these children in their clinics,” Dr. Dhiren Gupta, Paediatric Pulmonologist at Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital told ANI.

“Not only we should target 13 years plus children, but also we should target 5 years old also. That should be our next plan. All pediatricians should be allowed to vaccinate these children in their clinics if we want to expedite the vaccination process,” he added.

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“Most of these pediatric patients are tuned to go into the pediatric clinics and we can expedite the process of vaccination rather than limiting it to a few vaccination centers,” he stated.

On being asked about the Centre’s announcement to give a “precaution dose” of COVID-19 vaccine to the healthcare and frontline workers from January 10, 2022, he said, “But why to wait till January 10. Every day is important in a pandemic. We know that Omicron is increasing at a fast pace. We will get variations of this virus. A booster dose takes approximately three weeks to make sufficient antibodies. The booster vaccination should start within two or three days. Looking at the entire population, we should start it as soon as possible”.

Earlier on Saturday, emphasizing precaution in view of the rise in cases of Omicron variant of COVID-19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the start of vaccination for children in the 15-18 age group from coming January 3.

He added that the healthcare and frontline workers have made a big contribution in keeping the country safe against COVID-19 and they will be given a ‘precaution dose’ from January 10 next year.

He also said that senior citizens facing co-morbidities will have the option to go for a precautionary dose of COVID-19 on the advice of their doctors.

The Prime Minister said that 61 per cent of the adult population in the country had been given both doses of COVID-19 vaccine while 90 per cent of the adult population has received the first dose. India started the COVID vaccination drive on January 16 this year.

The Prime Minister said that the move to provide vaccination to children in the 15-18 age group is likely to aid in education normalization in schools and will reduce the worry of the parents with school-going children.

The decision regarding precaution dose for frontline and health workers has been done in light of the amount of time that they spend in the service of COVID-19 patients.”The decision of precaution dose will strengthen the confidence of healthcare and frontline workers,” he said.

Referring to the Omicron infections in India, the Prime Minister urged people not to panic and to follow precautions such as masks and washing hands repeatedly.

He assured that nasal vaccine and the world’s first DNA vaccine will be available for vaccination soon in the country.

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