On Friday, 3 December, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said that the government will move forward on the issues of vaccination for children and booster dose for COVID on the basis of scientific advice.
"The expert team will decide on vaccination for children and about booster dose. We will go by the scientific advice," he said in Lok Sabha during a debate on COVID situation that went on for nearly 12 hours.
He further added that these decisions will not be based on financial or political considerations, The Indian Express reported.
Many members had asked for clarity from the government over these two key issues and had also spoken about how the coronavirus pandemic impacted children's education, ANI reported.
Consider Booster Dose For 40 And Above: INSACOG
In its weekly bulletin dated 29 November, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) has recommended that the government should consider COVID booster dose for people who are 40-years-old and above amid the concerns revolving around the Omicron variant of coronavirus.
INSACOG, jointly initiated by the Union Health Ministry, and Department of Biotechnology (DBT) with Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), is a consortium of 28 national laboratories to monitor the genomic variations in the SARS-CoV-2.
"Vaccination of all remaining unvaccinated at-risk people and consideration of a booster dose for those 40 years of age and over, first targeting the most high-risk/high-exposure may be considered, since low levels of neutralising antibodies from current vaccines are unlikely to be sufficient to neutralise Omicron, although risk of severe disease is still likely to be reduced," the weekly bulletin mentioned.
Meanwhile, Mandaviya hit out at the Opposition alleging that they politicised COVID vaccine policy of the government.
“At one point in time, there was political talk that health is a state subject and that permission should be given (by the Centre) to take decisions on vaccination. Some said they can also purchase vaccines on their own. (Prime Minister Narendra) Modiji said you purchase the vaccines then,” The Express report quoted him as saying.
He added that another issue was raised questioning the government denying permission to the private sector to vaccinate. "The Government decided to give 25 percent to the private sector,” he added.
(With inputs from ANI, The Indian Express)