Is there a need for COVID-19 vaccine booster shot? Here's what Health Ministry says
New Delhi, Jun 23: If effective containment strategies and Covid appropriate behaviour are followed, the number of cases in the third wave will not be to the extent that the health system comes under strain, a senior health ministry official said on Wednesday.
Health ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said 2.2 per cent of India's population has been affected by the disease so far.
"This should also make us wary of protecting the still vulnerable or susceptible 97 per cent population. We cannot let our guards down, hence, continued focus on containment is critical.
"If we keep following containment and Covid appropriate behavior, then the third wave, even if it comes, will not have the number of cases that will put the health system under strain," he said.
Noting that one of the challenges being faced in the anti-Covid vaccination programme is vaccine hesitancy, Agarwal said many beneficiaries, especially in rural and tribal areas, fail to get themselves vaccinated owing to myths, rumours, misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19 vaccine shared on social media.
"While busting myths is important, it is also critical to remind communities about the role of Covid appropriate behaviour in breaking the virus transmission chain," he said.
The senior official was speaking at a media workshop organised by UNICEF in partnership with the Ministry of Health on the need to bust myths about vaccines and vaccination and reinforce the importance of Covid Appropriate Behaviour (CAB).
Responding to a question on the effectiveness of cocktail vaccine or mixing different vaccine doses, senior ministry official Veena Dhawan said as per the evidence available, the vaccines are not "interchangeable".
"A full analysis is yet to be made on the subject. Cocktail vaccination is not to be followed and we should take the same doses of the vaccine," she stressed.
On Adverse Event Following Immunisation (AEFI), Dhawan said the first 30 minutes post vaccination are crucial.
"That is why people are kept under observation. Serious or severe side effects are mostly seen in the first 30 minutes," she added.
COVID-19 vaccine booster shot
On vaccine validity, Agarwal said it is being assumed that the vaccine will give protection for 6-9 months.
"If evidence would suggest, a booster dose might be given," he added.
COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant women
Dhawan said the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) has recommended COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant women.
"Pregnant women vaccination has been recommended by NTAGI and in other countries also, it is going on. We will soon be coming out with guidelines for the same," she said.
On door-to-door vaccination, the official said there are some constraints to be considered due to which it has not been started yet.
"Each vial has to be used within four hours and that might be difficult, and observing the beneficiaries would also be difficult, that is why, door-to-door vaccination has not been introduced yet, but near home vaccination facility has been started," she added.