The central government will begin vaccinating children in the 15-18 age group, with Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, starting 3 January. The booster dose for the healthcare and frontline workers will start from January 10, as per the revised guidelines issued by the COVID-19 Working Group of National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI).

All persons aged 60 years and above with comorbidities, who have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, will also be eligible for a third dose on doctor’s advice from January 10. The prioritisation and sequencing of the third dose, called ‘precaution dose’ by the government, will be based on the completion of 9 months (39 weeks) from the date of administration of second dose.

The decision to vaccinate healthcare and frontline workers with a third ‘precaution dose’ and to begin children’s vaccination was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 25.

The government also said that all citizens irrespective of their income status are entitled to free COVID-19 vaccination at government centres. However, those who have the ability to pay are encouraged to use private hospitals’ vaccination centres.

The guideline adds that all those aged 15 years or more will be able to register on the Co-WIN website. Beneficiaries can self-register, online through an existing account on Co-WIN or create a new account. Appointments can also be booked onsite (walk-in).

The guideline states that the decision was taken in view of the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, detection of Omicron variant which has been categorized as a Variant of Concern (VOC), scientific evidence, global practices and the inputs/suggestions of NTAGI as well as of ‘Standing Technical Scientific Committee (STSC)’ of NTAGI.

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