Booster Shots For All Adults in US: What is India's Stand? What Do Experts Say?
A National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation member said India will decide by the end of November.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on 20 November expanded recommendations for COVID-19 booster shots to all adults who are above 18 years of age. This order comes at a time when official records reflect that at least 47 million adults in the US are yet to be vaccinated.
“Booster shots have demonstrated the ability to safely increase people’s protection against infection and severe outcomes and are an important public health tool to strengthen our defenses against the virus as we enter the winter holidays," CDC Director Rochelle P Walensky said in a statement.
What exactly does this mean? What's India's stand on booster shots? Here's all you need to know.
Who is eligible for booster shots in the US?
Any person who has taken a complete dose of either Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is eligible to take a booster shot.
The person must be above 18 years of age.
How long is the wait between second and booster shot?
The CDC recommends at least a six-month gap between the second dose and booster shot.
But isn't WHO against booster shots?
Yes. One month ago, on 23 October, the WHO released a statement saying that there was 'inconclusive' evidence on whether booster shots were effective.
“In the context of ongoing global vaccine supply constraints, broad-based administration of booster doses risks exacerbating inequities in vaccine access by driving up demand and diverting supply while priority populations in some countries, or in subnational settings, have not yet received a primary vaccination series."WHO Statement on Booster Shot
According to recent statistics from Our World in Data, only half the world population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Moreover, only 5 percent of those living in low-income countries have received at least one dose.
Are other countries approving booster shots, too?
Yes. Countries like the UK, Sweden, Spain South Korea, Turkey and Brazil have already approved booster shots for the immunocompromised and/or elderly.
However, European Union countries like Austria, Germany and Italy are offering booster shots to all adults.
What is India's stand on booster doses?
A National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) member told The Times of India that a policy on booster dose is likely to be announced by the end of this month. A meeting has been scheduled in two weeks to decide the same, said a member on 20 November to the newspaper.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said that a decision on booster dose would be taken based on the expert recommendation only, adding that the priority is to complete the adult vaccination programme with both doses at the earliest.
The government has not said anything officially on booster shots yet.
What are the experts saying?
Talking to IANS, Dr Samiran Panda, Head, Epidemiology and Infectious diseases division at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said that COVID booster dose may be introduced based on the scientific evidence, but this time our focus should be oriented on total vaccination with both doses across the nation.
Dr Ashok Seth, Chairman Pan Fortis Medical Council, said:
"We should not follow the US in administering the booster dose. Instead, we need to focus on second dose of vaccination which have been left behind. Once we will start administering booster dose, our mass vaccination program may be hampered which we can't bear."
However, Dr Ashutosh Shukla, Senior Director, Internal Medicine & Medical Advisor, Max Hospital, told IANS that the priority for India should be to ensure both doses of vaccination for the entire country this time.
"We have to wait for more research data on this as to when to administer the booster dose. The efficacy for the current vaccine falls between 70 and 80 per cent after 6 months of administration. So, whether the third shot should be given after 6 or 9 months or even after a year will be determined by the further research which is yet to come."
If I have taken a complete dose of Covaxin, can I opt for Covishield booster shot?
There is no clarity about this yet, as booster shots are not approved in India.
Watch out this space for more.
(With inputs from IANS)
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