What you need to know about children's vaccines and booster doses | In Focus podcast

Dr. Srinath Reddy speaks to us on the children’s vaccine and whether all adults need booster doses

On January 3, India began vaccinating a section of its teenagers, with Covaxin. About 7.4 crore children, between the ages of 15 and 18, are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. As of Saturday, over 2 crore children had received the first dose of their vaccine. Only Covaxin was approved for use in this age group, even though, last October, India’s first DNA vaccine, ZyCoV-D, had been granted emergency use authorisation for use in children above the age of 12. Some experts have argued that since COVID-19 in children is, in general, not severe, the entire adult population should have been vaccinated first —  over 90% of the eligible population has received the first dose, but second dose coverage remains less than 70%. However, others have pointed out that now that adult vaccination is well underway and progressing, the programme needed to be opened to children as well.

India has also announced precautionary doses — a third dose of the vaccine — for healthcare and frontline workers as well as adults aged above 60 with co-morbidities. The move comes amidst a global surge in COVID-19 cases, with new variant of concern, Omicron, dominating. Unlike some other countries however, India will give beneficiaries the same dose they had for the first two — either Covishield or Covaxin, without any mixing of the vaccines.

So how did the children’s vaccination programme come about, and how is it progressing? Do all adults need a booster dose or will only those at risk require it at present? How does the precautionary dose help protect vulnerable individuals? And will we see more variants in the future?

Guest: Dr Srinath Reddy, President of the Public Health Foundation of India

Host: Zubeda Hamid

Edited by Reenu Cyriac

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