Permit free booster shots for 18-59 age group, T.N. urges Centre

The low uptake of the precautionary dose is a cause for concern, given the increase in new infections

The low uptake of the precautionary dose is a cause for concern, given the increase in new infections

The Ministry of Health of Tamil Nadu has requested the Union Government’s approval to administer free booster doses to eligible persons aged 18-59 years in government vaccination centers with available supplies of Covishield and Covaxin, instead of private vaccination centers against the prescribed rates.

As of now, only healthcare professionals, frontline workers, and individuals over the age of 60 are eligible to receive the precautionary doses in any COVID-19 vaccination center, including free vaccination in government centers. The rest – those aged 18-59 – can get the booster injection at the prescribed rates in private centers.

As of June 20, 12,25,301 precautionary doses had been administered in the state. The low intake was worrying, given the increase in new infections and declining immunity.

A few weeks ago, TS Selvavinayagam, Director of Health and Preventive Medicine, wrote to the Union Ministry of Health, requesting permission to administer free preventive doses to the 18-59 age group. Then the state had 69,01,860 doses of Covishield and 25,09,785 doses of Covaxin. Current stocks were 55,24,830 doses of Covishield and 21,29,880 doses of Covaxin.

The official said they had requested the Union government to allow the use of the available preventive dose vaccines for the 18-59 age group. This was because they believed that the paid vaccines for this age group would affect booster vaccination coverage in a significant portion of the population, leaving them vulnerable to the infection.

In fact, the Ministry of Health has also requested authorization for free vaccination for 15-17 years of age who have not received the first dose at government vaccination centers with the available supply of Corbevax, rather than at private centers.

Although the request was made a few weeks ago, the Ministry of Health has not received a response from the Center. “But there are indications that this will not be approved,” said an official source.

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