Permit free booster shots for 18-59 age group, TN urges Center


The low uptake of precautionary dose is a cause for concern, given the rise in fresh infections

The low uptake of precautionary dose is a cause for concern, given the rise in fresh infections

Tamil Nadu’s Department of Health has sought the Union government’s approval for administering free booster doses to eligible persons aged 18-59 at government vaccination centers with the available stocks of Covishield and Covaxin, instead of private vaccination centers at the prescribed rates.

As of now, only healthcare workers, frontline workers and persons aged above 60 are eligible for the precautionary doses at any COVID-19 vaccination center, including free vaccination at government centers. The rest – those aged 18-59 – can get the booster shot at the prescribed rates at private centers.

Till June 20, 12,25,301 precautionary doses had been administered in the State. The low uptake was a cause for concern, given the rise in fresh infections and waning immunity.

A few weeks ago, TS Selvavinayagam, Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, wrote to the Union Health Ministry, seeking permission for free precautionary doses to be administered to the 18-59 age group. Then, the State had 69,01,860 doses of Covishield and 25,09,785 doses of Covaxin. The present stocks were 55,24,830 doses of Covishield and 21,29,880 doses of Covaxin.

The official said they had requested the Union government to allow the use of the available vaccines for precautionary doses for the 18-59 age group. This was because they felt that the paid vaccines for this age group would impact the booster vaccination coverage among a significant section of the population, making it vulnerable to the infection.

In fact, the Health Department also sought permission for free vaccination aged 15-17 who have not received the first dose at government vaccination centers with the available stock of Corbevax, instead of at private centers.

Though the request was made a few weeks ago, the Health Department has not received any reply from the Center. “But there have been hints that this will not be approved,” an official source said.



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