Precautionary doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be available to all aged 18 and above from 10 April, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare announced on Friday, 8 April.
"Those who are 18 years of age and have completed 9 months after the administration of second dose, would be eligible for precaution dose at private vaccination centres," the Ministry of Health said.
"The ongoing free vaccination programme through government vaccination centres for first and second dose to the eligible population as well as precaution dose to healthcare workers, frontline workers, and 60+ population would continue and would be accelerated," the Health Ministry added.
How Much Will the Shots Cost?
Serum Institute of India (SII) on Saturday announced their decision to revise the price of their COVID-19 vaccine Covishield for private hospitals from Rs 600 to Rs 225 per dose.
It had earlier been announced that the Covishield booster dose would cost Rs 600 for end users, while hospitals would acquire it at a discounted price.
Taking to Twitter to announce their decision, Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla said:
"We are pleased to announce that after discussion with the Central Government, SII has decided to revise the price of COVISHIELD vaccine for private hospitals from Rs 600 to Rs 225 per dose."
Soon after SII's announcement, Bharat Biotech, which manufactures Covaxin, said that they will also slash pricing to Rs 225 from 1,200.
The private vaccination centres can charge up to Rs 150 as an additional service charge per dose.
“Private centres must declare the price per dose chargeable by them on Co-WIN, in accordance with the prices declared by the manufacturers,” Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said on Saturday.
'A Welcome Step': Medanta Chairman
Reacting to the Health Ministry's announcement, chairman of Medanta Hospital, Dr N Trehan, said,
"It's a welcome step. Enough clinical data to show that booster dose is helping people and protecting them from infection, re-infection and also if they got it the impact is very minor."
Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of Serum Institute of India too welcomed the government's decision to allow booster doses for all above 18 years.
Speaking to NDTV, Poonawalla said it is a "crucial and timely decision" as several people were finding it difficult to travel as multiple countries restricted people who had not taken a booster dose.
Meanwhile, India reported 1,109 new cases and 43 deaths in the past 24 hours. The country's total infections now stand at more than 4.3 crore, with 5.21 lakh deaths.
On Monday, 14 March, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had announced that "everyone aged 60+ will now be able to get the precautionary dose."
The Health Ministry had also announced that children aged 12-14 would begin to receive their vaccine against the novel coronavirus from 16 March.
Meanwhile, the Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation on Wednesday, 6 April, indicated that the city had detected its first case of Omicron's new sub-variant, XE.
However, the Union Health ministry soon issued a clarification, saying that the "present evidence does not suggest the presence of the new variant."
(With inputs from ANI and NDTV.)