Vaccines for 7.4 crore teens, boosters for 13 crore adults: Over 20 crore in line as India expands COVID-19 vaccination drive

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Children aged between 15 and 18 will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination from 3 January. Healthcare and frontline workers, and those above 60 years with comorbidities will receive booster doses from 10 January

Vaccines for 7.4 crore teens, boosters for 13 crore adults: Over 20 crore in line as India expands COVID-19 vaccination drive

A woman being administered COVID-19 vaccine at a health centre. AP FILE

To counter the threat of another COVID-19 wave, led by the new Omicron variant, India has decided to expand its vaccination drive to include children aged 15-18 and make precautionary or booster doses available first to healthcare and frontline workers, and people aged over 60 with comorbidities.

This means the country is adding approximately 20.4 crore beneficiaries to the COVID-19 vaccination drive. Here’s a look at the size of the new segments:

CHILDREN AGED 15 TO 18: 7.4 CRORE

As per Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation on 25 December, children aged between 15 and 18 will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination from 3 January. Based on the projections of the 2011 Census, this number amounts to an addition of 7.4 crore individuals to the vaccination drive.

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has granted emergency use authorisation to indigenously developed Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for children above 12 years with certain conditions. It is the second vaccine to receive the regulator’s nod for use among those below 18 years after Zydus Cadila’s needle-free COVID-19 vaccine ZyCoV-D.

HEALTHCARE & FRONTLINE WORKERS: 3 CRORE

India had launched its COVID-19 vaccination drive on 16 January, 2021 with healthcare workers. As per government of India estimates, the beneficiary count was estimated to be around one crore. The drive was expanded in February to include frontline workers, estimated to be around two crore.

While this totals to three crore, the exact figure of healthcare and frontline workers to be given the booster dose would depend on the gap to the last dose each worker received.

As per the latest health ministry figures, so far, 1.03 crore healthcare workers have been vaccinated with the first dose. Of them, 96.78 lakh are fully vaccinated and would be the first claimants to a booster dose. Among frontline workers, 1.68 crore are fully vaccinated and would be in line for the booster dose from 10 January.

PEOPLE AGED 60+ WITH COMORBIDITIES: 10 CRORE

According to the 2011 Census projections, India has a total of 13.79 crore people aged above 60.

As per the Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (LASI) released by the Union Ministry of Family and Health Welfare in 2020, 75 percent of elderly people in India suffer from chronic health problems.

This means around 10 crore individuals in the 60-plus age-group suffer from one chronic disease or the other. The final figure of immediate beneficiaries in this segment would, however, depend on the type of chronic illness a person has, the tally of people fully vaccinated and the gap to their last dose.

The LASI study says that 36.4 percent people in the 60-plus population have cardiovascular diseases, 32 percent have hypertension, 14.2 percent suffer from diabetes mellitus, 8.3 percent have chronic lung disease, 5.2 percent have heart disease and 2.7 percent have suffered stroke.

As per the latest health ministry data, 12.05 crore individuals in the 60-plus population have been vaccinated with at least one dose. Out of these, 9.24 crore are fully vaccinated and if their doctor recommends, based on their comorbidities, they can go for a precautionary dose.

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