Booster dose only after completing COVID-19 vaccination drive: Centre

A man walk past a mural on novel coronavirus in Thiruvananthapuram, October 3 , 2021. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: Amid concerns over the likely impact of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, health experts world over are contemplating the need for a booster dose over and above the prescribed two jabs of the vaccine against COVID-19.

The Government of India's vaccination programme against the pandemic disease is deemed to be a success though concerns over a third wave persist and hence the authorities are mulling administering a booster dose to the eligible adult population.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya announced that a policy decision in this regard would be taken after getting the recommendations of the expert committee on immunisation.

The Union Government will think about implementing a booster dose programme only after the entire population takes two doses of vaccines, Mandaviya added while responding to a question raised by NK Premachandran, MP, in the Lok Sabha. 

Union Minister of State for Health Dr Bharati Pawar informed the Lok Sabha that about 13.6 per cent of the population is yet to be given vaccines.       

As of December 6, about 80.02 crore people have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. About 47.91 crores (51.0 per cent) people have received both doses of the vaccine. 

The Central Drugs Control Authority has already given permission to experiment with the vaccine mix of Covaxin and Covishield, Dr Bharati stated. 

Meanwhile, Dr Balram Bharghav, the  Director of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) stated that the immunity acquired against COVID-19 through vaccines would sustain for nine months. So, there was no need for taking the third dose till nine months after the second dose. 

Even after nine months, the effect of the vaccine will only get reduced and not completely wiped out. This was also conveyed to the Parliamentary standing committee by the expert committee of the Union Health Ministry in which Bhargava is a member. 

ICMR seeks more curbs

The ICMR has made it clear that more restrictions should be imposed in districts where the Total Positivity Rate of COVID-19 is more than 5 five per cent. Ten out of the 14 districts in Kerala fall in this category. The TPR rate in Kozhikode is 10.5 per cent, Thiruvananthapuram 10.34 per cent, Ernakulam 8.21 per cent, Idukki 9.07 per cent, Kannur 7.66 per cent, Kollam  8.15 per cent, Kottayam 9.09 per cent, Thrissur 6.51 per cent, Pathanamthitta 6.46 per cent and Wayanad 8.74 per cent. 

Laxing in wearing masks flayed

Meanwhile, the Union Health Ministry has raised apprehension over the laxity in the use of face masks by the public. the ministry pointed out that it was leading to a dangerous situation.

Niti Aayog member VK Paul said that the kind of precaution used to be taken by the general public during the tough COVID-19 times has been missing since this October.

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