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Already booked online appointments for 2nd Covishield dose to remain valid: Govt

The Centre had on May 13 extended the gap between the first and second doses of Covishield vaccine to 12-16 weeks based on the recommendations by the COVID Working Group chaired by N K Arora.

May 16, 2021 / 10:53 PM IST
(Representative image)

(Representative image)

The Union health ministry on Sunday clarified that already booked online appointments for second dose of Covishield vaccine will remain valid and the same will not be cancelled on Co-WIN platform. It, however, said requisite changes have now been done in the Co-WIN digital portal, as a result of which further online or on-site appointments will not be possible if the period after first dose date for a beneficiary is less than 84 days.

The Centre had on May 13 extended the gap between the first and second doses of Covishield vaccine to 12-16 weeks based on the recommendations by the COVID Working Group chaired by N K Arora.

The Government of India has communicated this change to states and UTs. The Co-WIN digital portal has also been reconfigured to reflect this extension of interval for two doses of Covishield, manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII) to 12-16 weeks, the ministry said.

"However, there have been reports in a section of the media suggesting that people who had pre-booked their appointments for the second dose in less than 84 days on Co-WIN are being turned back from vaccination centres without getting the second dose of Covishield, it said.

"Additionally, already booked online appointments for second dose of Covishield will remain valid and are not being cancelled by Co-WIN. Further, the beneficiaries are advised to reschedule their appointments for a later date beyond the 84th day from the date of first dose of vaccination," the ministry added.

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A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

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There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

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Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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The Union government has reiterated to the states/UTs that online appointments booked for second dose of Covishield prior to this change of the interval between the two doses of Covishield, must be honoured.

It advised the states/UTs that the field staff may be instructed that, if such beneficiaries do come for vaccination, "the second Covishield dose must be administered and they must not be turned away".

They have also been asked to undertake awareness activities to inform the beneficiaries about this change.

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.
PTI
first published: May 16, 2021 10:51 pm

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