India begins vaccinating teens to arrest surge of Covid infections stoked by Omicron

On Monday, India started its vaccination drive for teens aged 15 to 18 even as the country grappled with a spike in Covid cases driven by the Omicron variant in several states.

Many state governments have reinstated restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.

The health ministry data said that over 1.6 million teens between the ages of 15 to 18 received their first Covid shots.

So far, according to the data from the government’s vaccination portal, CoWin, ​​nearly 2.7 million teenagers have registered for their vaccine shots.

On Monday, India reported 33,750 new Covid cases and 123 deaths over the past 24 hours, health ministry data said.

The number of patients with the Omicron variant of the virus rose to 1700. Of these, 510 have been reported from Maharashtra and 351 from Delhi.

The government said that 1.4 billion vaccination doses have been administered since the vaccination drive was started last year across the country. However, less than 50 per cent of the population is fully inoculated so far.

India has failed to vaccinate 100 per cent of its population by the end of last year as was promised by the government.

One 16-year-old boy, who was identified by just his first name Soumadeep by AFP, was quoted as saying after receiving his first shot of Covaxin: “It’s really great to have your first vaccine. It’s like a new year gift for the children.”

Those born in 2007 and before are eligible for the vaccine. So far, all teens who have registered will get the India-made Covaxin.

India is also administering booster doses for all its health workers, frontline workers and vulnerable senior citizens starting 10 January.

There have been reports that the two new vaccines — Corbevax and Covovax — might be used as booster doses. Both these vaccines have been cleared by health authorities.

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