A third 'precautionary' dose of the Covid-19 vaccine will be administered to thousands of healthcare workers and elderly population today in an effort to combat rising cases and boost immunity as Omicron replaces Delta as the predominant viral strain in India.
A total of 3 crore health workers and approximately 2.7 crore elderly with comorbidities are estimated to be vaccinated.
On December 25, 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced India's intent to begin vaccinating children aged 15-18 and high-risk populations like healthcare workers and elderly persons with comorbidities. Those eligible for the third 'booster' dose of the vaccine include elderly persons above 60 years of age, with comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, heart issues and other health complications.
Vaccines in the third dose will not be "mix and match" the Union Health Ministry had announced earlier. This means the third dose will be the same vaccine the recipient had opted for in the first two doses. While thousands have already registered for their third dose using their CoWIN accounts, new registration on the CoWIN app is not required.
The central government had also announced that walk-in vaccinations will be permitted. The booster dose is only to be administered to those who received their second dose of the vaccine nine months before.
While those above 60 years of age with co-morbidities have been advised to seek medical advice before receiving the third dose, they would not be required to submit any certificate for the same.
"There is a need for continuous scientific research in testing , vaccines and pharmacological interventions including genome sequencing given that the virus is evolving continuously," the Prime Minister said, according to a government statement at a Covid review meeting on Sunday. He stressed the need to systematically complete vaccine drives to ensure maximum coverage of the population.