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India may start vaccinating children against COVID-19 in six weeks

India is likely to start vaccinating children against COVID-19 in the next six weeks. Vaccination will start with approved vaccines and children with co-morbidities will be vaccinated in the first phase, followed by all children in the second phase.

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) had granted emergency use authorisation (EUA) to Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D in August for children aged 12 years and above. ZyCoV-D is India’s first indigenously developed DNA-based COVID-19 vaccine.

The subject expert committee of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has also recommended EUA for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin to be used on children aged between 2 and 18 years. The DGCA is yet to review the recommendation. An official told The Times of India that the DCGI’s approval for Covaxin is likely to come by November-end.

“The vaccination would have started by now, but Zydus Cadila has not delivered the vaccine so far, and we are still waiting for the DCGI’s approval for Covaxin (for children),” Dr NK Arora, chairperson of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI), told Mint.

Arora said five COVID-19 vaccines, including Biological E’s Corbevax and Novavax’s Covavax, will soon be available.

Apart from ZyCoV-D and Covaxin, the government will also consider Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines recommended for children in the US and the UK.

According to a report in Mint, 28.6 percent of the population in India is between the 0 and 14-year age group.

Although children have not been significantly affected by the coronavirus, public health experts stress child vaccination as a preventive measure.

“Children in the age group of 2-18 years are the most vulnerable group at this point. Hence, getting them vaccinated at the earliest should be a priority,” Dr. Shrinivas Tambe, a pediatrician at Pune’s Jupiter Hospital.

Meanwhile, a hospital in Mumbai is calling parents to register their children for COVID-19 vaccines once they are approved.

The SRCC Children’s hospital is calling parents of children between 2 and 18 years to list their kids for vaccination free of cost, News18 reported. The hospital says dates for the vaccination will be announced once the government approves the doses. CNBCTV18

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