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Follow-up COVID-19 booster shots not on government radar for now

Experts say it may be pointless administering multiple shots of existing COVID-19 vaccines even to those considered most susceptible. However, availability of bivalent or multiple vaccines that work against more than one strain should lead to a change in vaccination policy, they add.

December 23, 2022 / 08:43 AM IST
Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai launches rollout of precaution dose vaccination for healthcare workers, frontline workers and persons aged above 60 with co-morbidities at Sri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Medical College in Bengaluru. Image: ANI.

Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai launches rollout of precaution dose vaccination for healthcare workers, frontline workers and persons aged above 60 with co-morbidities at Sri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Medical College in Bengaluru. Image: ANI.

The threat of a full-blown COVID-19 comeback may have sent health policy administrators into a tizzy, but the government, as of now, is not considering a second COVID-19 booster dose even for those considered most vulnerable to the disease.

As of now, booster dose coverage in India, which is permitted for all aged 18 years and above, stands at just 28 percent of the eligible population group. These shots are provided free of cost to those above 60 years of age but people aged 18-59 years can only get them in private hospitals at predetermined rates.

Government officials conceded that there is an emerging view that in the years to come, COVID-19 vaccines may be useful as annual boosters, as is the case with existing vaccines against influenza, for specific groups of people such as those with respiratory problems or multiple comorbidities.

“However, at this point in time there is not even a consideration of allowing more COVID-19 vaccine (booster) doses for anyone, including those considered the most susceptible to severe disease,” said a senior official in the Union health ministry.