The vaccine option against COVID-19 for children in the age group of 15-18 years, who will be inoculated from January 3, would be Covaxin only, according to new guidelines issued by the Union health ministry on Monday.
The prioritisation and sequencing of the "precaution dose" (third dose) for healthcare workers (HCWs), frontline workers (FLWs) and citizens above 60 years of age with comorbidities, would be based on completion of nine months from the date of administration of second dose, which is 39 weeks, the guidelines, which will come into effect from January 3, stated.
They will be able to access vaccination for the precaution dose through their existing Co-WIN account.
The Centre will hold a meeting with states and union territories on December 28 through video conferencing to discuss the framework for implementing the children vaccination programme and the precaution dose for HCWs, FLWs and senior citizens.
Eligibility for the precaution dose will be based on the date of administration of the second dose as recorded in the Co-WIN system, which will send an SMS for availing the precaution dose when it becomes due, the ministry informed.
Registration and appointment services can be accessed through online and onsite modes, and details of administration of the precaution dose will reflect in vaccination certificates, according to the guidelines.
The guidelines, however, do not mention which vaccine would be given as third dose or precaution dose.
"Those aged 15 years or more will be able to register on Co-WIN. In other words, all those whose birth year is 2007 or before, shall be eligible," according to the 'Guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination of children between 15-18 years and precaution dose to HCWs, FLWs and 60+ population with comorbidities'.
Beneficiaries can self-register online through an existing Co-WIN account or create a new account through a mobilephone number. This facility is available for eligible citizens only.
They can be also registered onsite by a verifier or vaccinator in the facilitated registration mode, the ministry stated.
On vaccination of children, the guidelines said, "For such beneficiaries, option for vaccination would only be available for Covaxin as this is the only vaccine with EUL (emergency use listing) for the age-group 15-17."
The ministry said that as a matter of abundant precaution, for those HCWs FLWs, who have received two doses, another dose of COVID-19 vaccine would be provided from January 10.
People aged 60 years and above with comorbidities, who have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, will on doctor's advice be provided with the precaution dose from January 10, it said.
"The prioritisation and sequencing of this precaution dose would be based on the completion of nine months, i.e. 39 weeks from the date of administration of second dose," the guidelines stated.
Citizens irrespective of their income status are entitled to free COVID-19 vaccination at Government Vaccination Centres. Those who have the ability to pay are encouraged to use private hospitals' vaccination centres, the ministry said.
Keeping in view the recent global surge in COVID-19 cases, detection of the Omicron variant that has been categorised Variant of Concern, scientific evidence, global practices and inputs of the COVID-19 Working Group of National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization as well as of the 'Standing Technical Scientific Committee of NTAGI, it has now been decided to further refine the scientific prioritisation and coverage of vaccination, the guidelines stated.
The guidelines' document stated that 90 per cent of the adult population of the country has been covered with at least one dose and 62 per cent with both doses.
The countrywide vaccination drive was rolled out on January 16 with HCWs getting inoculated in the first phase. Vaccination of FLWs started from February 2.
The next phase of COVID-19 vaccination commenced from March 1 for people over 60 years of age and those aged 45 and above with specified co-morbid conditions.
The country launched vaccination for all people aged more than 45 years from April 1.