From January 3 of the new year, India has begun distributing Covid-19 vaccines to children aged 15 to 18. According to data released by the CoWIN portal, almost 40 lakh youngsters from the said age group were given the Covid-19 vaccine until 8 p.m. on the first day of the immunisation push.
The Union Health Ministry had stated that Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin will be the only vaccine given to eligible individuals between the ages of 15 and 18. The decision to vaccinate adolescents and give a precautionary dose to vulnerable groups was made in light of the recent global surge in coronavirus infections, the discovery of the new Omicron variant of the virus, scientific evidence, global practises, and “the inputs/suggestions of the ‘Covid-19 Working Group of National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI)’ as well as the ‘Standing Technical Scientific Committee (STSC)’ of NTAGI,” said the ministry in a statement. With this backdrop, The CSR Journal is here with answers to the FAQs regarding the vaccination drive of the younger age group.
1. Who exactly is eligible to get vaccinated?
According to the ministry, children born in 2007 and earlier shall be eligible to receive the vaccine.
2. Is it necessary to book an appointment for vaccination for the children aged 15-18? How can it be done?
According to the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health, beneficiaries can register online through an existing account on Co-WIN, or after creating a new account through a unique mobile number. Children can book a slot using their parents’ existing Co-WIN accounts. Children could also be registered onsite by the verifier/vaccinator in facilitated registration mode. Therefore, the appointments can be booked online or onsite and the beneficiary can directly walk in to get the shot.
3. Is the vaccine available for free?
As per the ministry, all beneficiaries irrespective of their income status are entitled to get jabbed for free at government vaccination centres. However, those who visit private hospitals or vaccination centres have to pay the requisite fees.
4. Which vaccine to choose for children?
The government of India has declared that only the vaccine prepared by Bharat Biotech, namely COVAXIN will be administered to the children in India. Other vaccines are not available for the younger age group. The government has also clarified that the children will be able to take the second shot of the vaccine after the recommended 28 days.
5. What side effects should we expect to have after getting vaccinated?
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), common side-effects after vaccination, which indicate that a person’s body is building protection to COVID-19 infection include:
– Arm soreness
– Mild fever
– Muscle or joint aches
It is recommended to contact one’s care provider if there is redness or tenderness (pain) where a person got the shot that increases after 24 hours, or if side effects do not go away after a few days. If an individual experiences an immediate severe allergic reaction to a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, they should not receive additional doses of the vaccine. It’s extremely rare for severe health reactions to be directly caused by vaccines.
Taking painkillers such as paracetamol before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine to prevent side effects is not recommended. This is because it is not known how painkillers may affect how well the vaccine works. However, one may take paracetamol or other painkillers if side effects such as pain, fever, headache or muscle aches are developed after vaccination.
6. Are other countries also vaccinating children?
Countries around the world have expanded their Covid-19 vaccination programmes to include young children. Children in the US aged 5 to 11 were recommended for Covid-19 vaccines ever since November 2. Following this, Canada authorised Pfizer’s shot for children aged five to 11 on November 19.
Italy approved vaccination for children aged 5-11 on December 1 and the French authorities said on December 22nd that they were making all children 5 to 11 eligible. Finally, on December 23rd 2021, Ecuador became the first country to make vaccines obligatory for children as young as five, following the arrival of the Omicron variant.