By Linus Garg
First publised on 2022-04-27 05:51:36
With the surge in Covid cases in some states, especially Delhi, and the reopening of schools, it is extremely urgent to vaccinate children to protect them from serious illness if another wave of Covid hits India. Hence, the decision of the national drugs regulator to approve Covaxin (Bharat Biotech) for emergency use in children aged 6-12 years and Corbevax (Biological E) in children aged 5-12 years, along with the approval of the two-dose ZyCov-D (Zydus Cadila) for those above 12 years is welcome.
India's seven-day rolling average of daily cases has once again gone beyond the 2000 mark. While this is small, but given the fact that it had gone below 500 the rise is alarming. It may be due to the shedding of all precautions including masking (which has now been made mandatory once again in many states) but it is an indicator that the virus has not gone away and can return with a vengeance if we are not vigilant. School-going children in the age group 5-12 years will be particularly vulnerable if there is another wave and it might lead to further disruption of learning.
With the expanded vaccine basket for all ages, the government must take an early decision for opening up vaccination for the 5-12 year group (presently, only those above 12 are eligible for vaccination). Although the virus has been found to penetrate the vaccine shield, vaccination still remains the best defence as it prevents serious illness in both children and adults. The National Technical Advisory Board on Immunization (NTAGI)- for Covid-19 must examine the feasibility and make an early recommendation to the government to lower the eligible age for vaccination to 5 years. Children above 5 years must be vaccinated fast to protect them against the virus and allow schools to function without further disruptions.