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Policy on rolling out third vaccine dose likely by Nov end

Amid fear of a Covid-19 resurgence in the upcoming winter season, a number of political leaders, experts from medical associations, and several states including Rajasthan and Maharashtra have urged the government at the Centre to administer booster dose (third dose) to its vulnerable population and health workers. Following this uproar, several media reports have emerged that India is likely to form a policy on administering the third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine by the end of November.

As per reports, a key meeting to discuss the policy framework has also been scheduled for next week, said a senior member of the country’s Covid task force on Saturday. However, priority will be given to complete the adult vaccination programme at the earliest, the official added. The upcoming policy on a COVID-19 booster dose will be finalised by the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), the government’s advisory body on immunisation.

According to a TOI report, the COVID task force member said, “A comprehensive policy is likely to come out based on Indian epidemiology and the pandemic situation in the country and not based on other nations. The meeting should be held in the next two weeks.” The advisory group will not only discuss the need for a booster dose to the eligible population but will form guidelines on immunisation of children at its next meeting.

“We are reviewing the national literature and global data to see whether there is a need to give booster shots, the third dose to immunocompromised, and also we will decide on the guidelines for paediatric immunisation,” said a source aware of the updates on NTAGI meeting.

Even as a policy on booster dose is being readied by the advisory group the thrust would, however, focus would be on speeding up and completing the adult vaccination programme, he added. The focus would be to ensure that at least all adult beneficiaries are administered the first dose by December 31. At present, over 80% of the nation’s adult population has received at least the first dose of the vaccine, and over 41% has been jabbed with both doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

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