The union cabinet on July 13 approved free booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines for adults for 75 days starting July 15, the information minister said.
The booster shots of the coronavirus vaccine will be administered free of cost at public healthcare facilities, although, the doses received at private centres will continue to be paid, Anurag Singh Thakur said while speaking to reporters in the national capital.
India, on July 6, reduced the gap between the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and the third dose or booster dose to six months for adults from the earlier gap of nine months.
The administration of the precaution dose was already available free of cost to beneficiaries aged 60 years and above, healthcare workers, and frontline workers.
India has been seeing an uptick in active COVID-19 cases over the past several weeks, in line with several other countries that are seeing a spread of new variants of the deadly virus.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
India saw a 24 percent increase in daily coronavirus infections with 16,906 new COVID-19 cases being reported in the last 24 hours, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has informed. With this, the number of active cases went up to 1,32,457. The country’s coronavirus death toll now stands at 5,25,519 with 45 more deaths being reported in the past 24 hours.
This development comes at a time the county's vaccination drive has slowed down several notches, with many beneficiaries shying away from getting booster shots.
As for India’s COVID-19 vaccination drive, which started on January 16, 2021, as many as 1,99,12,79,010 doses of the preventive jab have been administered thus far.