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Booster, shots for kids on the agenda as NTAGI meets today


The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), the Covid-19 advisory group in India, is likely to contemplate key issues like the need for a booster dose to the eligible population, additional dose for the immunocompromised and opening vaccination for children in a meeting to be held on Monday, people in the know told ET.

NTAGI chair NK Arora will give a presentation on a status report, detailing the share of children in the total active Covid-19 cases, impact of Covid-19 on children and the need for the vaccination in children, they said.

The Union health minister had earlier said that the decision on vaccinating children would not be taken in a hurry, and before booster doses, the government’s focus was to ensure all adults were vaccinated against Covid-19.

“The experts have to be fully convinced on the issue as it is a matter of children. We will have to be extremely careful as even the developed countries that have begun vaccinating their children are treading cautiously. The decision of the experts will be final on this,” Mansukh Mandaviya, the minister, had said during a media interaction.

As of now, only Zydus Healthcare’s Covid-19 vaccine, ZyCoV-D, has been approved for emergency use in India for children above 12 years of age. The Drugs Controller General of India is still reviewing the emergency use authorisation for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for those above two years. It has got a go-ahead from the subject expert committee under the drug regulator.

According to people familiar with the development, even if a consensus is reached on starting vaccination in children among the NTAGI members, vaccination will first be offered to children with comorbidities. Government experts will also soon come out with a list of comorbidities that could determine which children are eligible for the vaccine first. The list is likely to have those on cancer treatment, transplant cases and immunocompromised children, among others.

With the Omicron variant making its way into the country, the debate over the booster dose has intensified and the NTAGI will likely discuss the issue.

The key decision on whether immunocompromised people should get an additional third dose of Covid-19 vaccine may also be discussed on Monday, the same people said.

In India, Insacog, a consortium of laboratories undertaking genome sequencing, had earlier discussed the potential role of an additional dose of the Covid-19 vaccines in high-risk populations, in view of the emerging evidence from South Africa and some other countries.



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