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Health Ministry aims to finalise booster-dose policy by mid-Dec

The Health Ministry is likely to come out with a policy on the booster dose by mid-December, said a source familiar with the development .

The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) had met on Monday to discuss booster doses. “The NTAGI had a meeting today on the booster dose. The discussions are at a nascent stage right now. Hopefully, we will come out with the policy by December-mid,” the source told BusinessLine. He further added that the focus of the meeting was only on boosters and vaccinating the adult population.

‘To meet again’
“Currently, we are discussing the structure of the policy. We are trying to figure out the priority group which needs to be given the booster dose. We will meet again and expect something concrete will come out then. Child vaccination is not on our agenda at this point in time,” the source further added. He said the unutilised stock of vaccine will be utilised as the booster dose.

At present, States have 21.64 crore of vaccine doses left with them. The booster dose policy comes even as the Centre is pushing for more people to get their primary doses. However, the policy will help absorb the unused stock that may be available at government and private hospitals across the country that could be close to its expiry date.

The national average of first dose vaccine is 82 per cent, while it is 43 per cent for the second dose. The meeting on boosters is significant, as several countries are going in for the same to bolster waning immunity.

Recently, Swati Piramal, Vice-Chairperson of the Piramal Group, in an interaction with BusinessLine, had also made the case for booster dose.

According to her, the booster will not only help the government in the prevention of vaccine wastage, but would also help in giving antibody protection to the frontline and healthcare workers.

Vaccine-makers too are reportedly urging the government to decide on boosters and open up exports, as more stocks pile up with them. The World Health Organization, though, has called for a moratorium on boosters till the year-end, till more regions in the world are equitably vaccinated. The Hindu BusinessLine