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SMS alerts for 3rd dose, school IDs as proof for minors — CoWin chief on new vaccination phase

National Health Authority CEO R.S. Sharma says there is no clarity yet on which vaccine can be taken for the 3rd jab, adds that registration for children will begin 1 January.

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New Delhi: If it’s been nine months since they got their second Covid dose, fully vaccinated healthcare workers and senior citizens with comorbidities will receive SMS alerts on their registered mobile number to enrol for the booster shot, said National Health Authority (NHA) CEO Dr R.S. Sharma, also the CoWin chief, in a TV interview Monday.

He also explained the vaccine registration procedure for children above 15 years, saying it will open on 1 January. Those born in 2007 and before will be eligible for the vaccine, he added in an interview to NDTV.

“Since children don’t have voter ID or driving licence, we are adding school IDs as one of the valid IDs,” he added.

In a late-night address to the nation Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that frontline workers and citizens above the age of 60 with comorbidities will be eligible for a precautionary third dose of the Covid vaccine, amid the spread of the Omicron variant.

Modi had also announced that children between the ages of 15 and 18 years will be eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

The Union Health Ministry Monday issued a notification laying down the basic guidelines for the next phase of vaccination.

“As a matter of abundant precaution, for those healthcare workers (HCWs) & frontline workers (FLWs) who have received two doses, another dose of Covid-19 vaccine would be provided from 10th January 2022,” the statement read. “The prioritisation and sequencing of this precaution dose would be based on the completion of nine months i.e. 39 weeks from the date of administration of 2nd dose.”

Also read: With ‘precaution doses’ approved in India, here’s what we know about Covid vaccine boosters

Which vaccine for booster dose?

While the health ministry notification makes it clear that children can only get Covaxin, given that it is the only vaccine available for the age group in India, it does not state which vaccine can be taken as a booster dose.

Sharma said there was still no clarity on the matter.

“I am not clear about whether the third dose will be of the same vaccine as the first two or a different brand. As and when that decision is taken, the CoWin platform will be configured accordingly,” Sharma said during an interview with NDTV.

He said senior citizens won’t have to upload any document while booking a slot, and instead carry a comorbidity certificate to the vaccination centre.

“They (senior citizens) will be registered on the CoWin platform because they will have already taken two doses. We will also know when they took the last dose. As soon as nine months from the second dose is completed, the CoWin app will issue an SMS informing them that they can now take a precautionary dose if they have a comorbidity,” he said.

“The users can then use the same mobile number to book a precautionary dose,” he said, adding that healthcare workers will also be informed that they are eligible for the booster shot.

Addressing the limitation of the CoWin platform, which allows only up to four family members under one mobile number, Sharma said a new number can be used to register children.

“Assuming that their parents have already registered in the CoWin app earlier, the parents can add their children under the same mobile number. But if four people have already been registered, a new number can be used to separately register children,” Sharma said.

Vaccine certification will work the same way as it did for adults, he added.

(Edited by Monami Gogoi)

Also read: Omicron drives Indians, especially health workers, to quietly get booster from pvt hospitals


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