New Delhi: The vaccine option against COVID-19 for children in the age group of 15-18 years, who will be inoculated from January 3, would be Covaxin only, according to new guidelines issued by the Union health ministry on Monday.
"Those aged 15 years or more will be able to register on Co-WIN. In other words, all those whose birth year is 2007 or before, shall be eligible," according to the 'Guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination of children between 15-18 years.
"For such beneficiaries, option for vaccination would only be available for Covaxin as this is the only vaccine with EUL (emergency use listing) for the age-group 15-17," the guidelines stated.
CoWIN registration for children to start on January 1
Children aged between 15 and 18 years would be able to register on the CoWIN portal from January 1 and the vaccine option for them would only be Covaxin, officials said on Monday as preparations are underway to start inoculating children against COVID-19 from January 3.
How to book
Self-registration: The beneficiaries (aged 15-18 years) can register themselves online through an existing account on Co-WIN or by creating a new account through a unique mobile number. This facility is available for all eligible citizens presently.
Onsite: They can be also registered onsite by a verifier or vaccinator in the facilitated registration mode, the ministry stated.
Students' registration: An additional provision has been made on CoWIN through which students can register for vaccination on the portal using their student identity cards as some may not have Aadhaar or other ID cards.
3rd dose for healthcare workers 9 months after second dose
In a televised address to the nation on Saturday night, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that vaccination against COVID-19 for children aged between 15 and 18 years will start from January 3, while a "precaution dose" for the healthcare and frontline workers would be administered from January 10 -- decisions that came amid a rising number of coronavirus cases linked to its Omicron variant.
"The prioritisation and sequencing of this precaution dose would be based on the completion of nine months, i.e. 39 weeks from the date of administration of second dose," the guidelines stated.
Citizens irrespective of their income status are entitled to free COVID-19 vaccination at Government Vaccination Centres. Those who have the ability to pay are encouraged to use private hospitals' vaccination centres, the ministry said. They will be able to access vaccination for the precaution dose through their existing Co-WIN account.
The Centre will hold a meeting with states and union territories on December 28 through video conferencing to discuss the framework for implementing the children vaccination programme and the precaution dose for HCWs, FLWs and senior citizens.
Eligibility for the precaution dose will be based on the date of administration of the second dose as recorded in the Co-WIN system, which will send an SMS for availing the precaution dose when it becomes due, the ministry informed.
Registration and appointment services can be accessed through online and onsite modes, and details of administration of the precaution dose will reflect in vaccination certificates, according to the guidelines.
The guidelines, however, do not mention which vaccine would be given as third dose or precaution dose.
Keeping in view the recent global surge in COVID-19 cases, detection of the Omicron variant that has been categorised Variant of Concern, scientific evidence, global practices and inputs of the COVID-19 Working Group of National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization as well as of the 'Standing Technical Scientific Committee of NTAGI, it has now been decided to further refine the scientific prioritisation and coverage of vaccination, the guidelines stated.
The guidelines' document stated that 90 per cent of the adult population of the country has been covered with at least one dose and 62 per cent with both doses.
The countrywide vaccination drive was rolled out on January 16 with HCWs getting inoculated in the first phase. Vaccination of FLWs started from February 2.
The next phase of COVID-19 vaccination commenced from March 1 for people over 60 years of age and those aged 45 and above with specified co-morbid conditions.
The country launched vaccination for all people aged more than 45 years from April 1.
Zydus Cadila's anti-Covid vaccine ZyCoV-D is yet to be introduced in the country's inoculation programme even for adults, though it received the Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) from the drug regulator on August 20, making it the first vaccine to be administered in the age group of 12-18 years in the country.
The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) granted the EUA to indigenously-developed Covaxin for children above 12 years with certain conditions on Friday.
(With PTI inputs.)