Precautionary third doses of vaccines — announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month — will be given to health and frontline workers and immuno-compromised seniors starting today as Covid numbers spike in the country, driven by Omicron.
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The health ministry has said there is no need to register for the precautionary vaccine doses. Those eligible can directly take an appointment or walk into any vaccination centre. There is no decision yet on booster doses for all adults.
Besides health and frontline workers, those above the age of 60 years who have co-morbidities like diabetes, hypertension and other chronic ailments also have the option of getting the “Precaution Dose” on the advice of their doctor.
Those eligible for booster shots will, however, get them only 9 months after receiving the second dose of the Covid vaccine.
The third dose will be the same vaccine the people have received for their first and second doses. There will be no mix and match, the Centre has said.
This means individuals who received two doses of Serum Institute’s Covishield vaccine will get a third dose of the same. Those who got Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin will get a third jab of it.
The “precautionary dose” was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month amid continued demands for booster doses in view of the Omicron threat.
“Corona warriors, healthcare, and frontline workers have a huge contribution in keeping the country safe… Therefore, from the point of view of precaution, the government has decided that to start administering “Precaution Doses” for healthcare and frontline workers,” PM Modi had said on December 25.
But already, with the Omicron-driven Covid surge, many doctors and healthcare workers have contracted the disease – many of them for a second time. Infection among healthcare workers has been particularly high in the metros.
“All Covid vaccines, whether they are from India, Israel, US, Europe, UK, or China, are primarily disease-modifying. They don’t prevent infection. The precautionary dose is primarily to mitigate the severity of infection, hospitalisation, and death,” Dr Balram Bhargava, Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research has said.
A study from the UK has found that a third dose of vaccine can provide up to 88 per cent protection against hospitalisation from infection by the Omicron variant.