The rollout of vaccination against Covid for children aged 5-12 years has yet to begin in India, as the two vaccines approved for this age group aren’t available for booking on the government’s Co-WIN platform.
The Co-WIN platform allows people to register and book slots for getting their jabs and also receive vaccination certificates.
The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) has earlier this month cleared Biological E’s Corbevax and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for use in children of this age group. The Drugs Controller General of India had approved both in April. Corbevax has been approved for children aged 5-12 years and Covaxin for the 6-12 age group.
The NTAGI has approved both vaccines, but has not recommended the government to put those in the immunisation drive, people in the know told ET.
Usually, the NTAGI reviews the data of the vaccine and then gives its recommendations to the government for the inclusion of the vaccine. The government then takes the call.
“At present, the focus is on children aged between 12 and 18 years and then include the younger age group in the programme,” one of the people said.
India has around 170-180 million children in the 5-12 age group.
Executives at Biological E and Bharat Biotech said they were waiting for the inclusion of their products on the Co-WIN app to make them available for young children. “At this moment, Corbevax is available for primary vaccination for subjects from the ages of 12 years and above on the Co-WIN app. However, this distribution can do better if vaccination access is extended to other age groups on the Co-WIN App,” said Vikram Paradkar, Biological E’s executive vice-president for manufacturing & technical operations.
Paradkar said there was no dearth of supply. The company has a stock of about 200 million doses and can manufacture about 100 million doses of Corbevax every month, he added.
Covid in children is milder compared with adults. However, some kids can get very sick and require hospitalisation. According to many experts, vaccinating against Covid will give greater confidence in children to participate in school and other activities.