Scientific Experts Will Take The Call On Rollout Of Booster And Covid Vaccines For Children: Mansukh Mandaviya

by Bhaswati Guha Majumder - Dec 6, 2021 04:05 PM +05:30 IST
Scientific Experts Will Take The Call On Rollout Of Booster And Covid Vaccines For Children: Mansukh Mandaviya
Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya.
Snapshot
  • The Health Minister said that decisions on rollout of booster jabs for adults and Covid-19 vaccination for children, will be taken on scientific recommendations from expert groups.

The emergence of Omicron has triggered a question regarding vaccine —does double vaccinated Indians need boosters, while some experts in countries like the United States are asking citizens to take the third jab.

In India, as several states have demanded the rollout of booster jabs for adults and Covid-19 vaccination for children, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said in Parliament on 3 December that the government will only move forward on these two key issues if scientific recommendations from vaccine administration expert groups are received.

According to the minister, these decisions will not be taken on the basis of financial or political factors. He said: “The Parliament wants to know when the Government will administer booster doses as well as the timeline for children’s vaccination.”

“The Government spends Rs 2.5 lakh crore to give free foodgrains to the people of this country. We are giving a Rs 1.5 lakh crore subsidy to farmers. The question (of when the Government clears booster doses) is not economical. It is also not a political question,” Mandaviya added.

He also clarified that respective experts will make a final decision on whether or not children should be vaccinated and given booster doses to the adult population and then, the government will proceed based on the recommendations.

The National Technical Advisory Group in India (NTAGI), the government's primary advisory body on immunisation, makes policy and programme recommendations based on a technical examination of scientific evidence.

As reported, the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid (NEGVAC), which is led by Dr V K Paul, hears NTAGI's recommendations. NEGVAC makes the final decision on Covid vaccine deployment, prioritisation and logistics.

Mandaviya also criticised the opposition for sowing questions about local vaccines, which hampered the vaccination campaign while saying, “opposition-ruled states promised support during meetings with the prime minister, but went back on their words and tried to weaken the nation's fight against Covid-19.”

To speed up the vaccination effort, he challenged Lok Sabha members to ensure 100 per cent immunisation in their respective constituencies.

“Twenty-two crore vaccine doses are already available with the states and the Centre will make available an additional 10 crore this month,” Mandaviya said, adding that the government had launched a "Har Ghar Dastak" (knock on every door) campaign to speed up immunisation.

Furthermore, Mandaviya stated that India's scientific community is debating the topic of booster doses, which he regarded as the country's strength.

The Health Minister also shared information on the two patients in the country who tested positive for Omicron, stating that all main and secondary contacts in one case, involving a 66-year-old South African national, have been tracked down and tested. According to this report, 21 cases of Omicron have been registered in various parts of the country.

Mandaviya said five contacts of a 46-year-old doctor have tested positive in the second instance and added that “the genome sequencing of these persons (five contacts) is still underway”.

With inputs from PTI.

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