The Indian Medical Association (IMA) today urged the government to announce "additional" doses of Covid vaccine for healthcare, frontline workers, and immunocompromised individuals amid concerns over Omicron, 21 cases of which have been detected in India so far.
It also demanded that the government expedite the proposal of vaccinating individuals aged 12 to 18 years.
At a press conference, the doctors' body said that cases of the latest variant of coronavirus were reported from a number of major states of India, and the tally, which is in double digits, is bound to increase.
With scientific evidence available and the experience noted in countries of origin, it is evident that the Omicron variant will have high penetrability and will affect more people, the IMA claimed.
"At a time when India is limping back to normalcy, this is a great setback. If we do not take adequate measures, we may have a massive third wave," it warned.
Noting that India has crossed 1.26 billion vaccinations, with over 50 percent of the adult population vaccinated at least with one dose, the IMA said vaccination has proved that it will prevent severe forms of the infection.
"So, if we can altruistically be focused on vaccination, India can definitely overcome the impact of Omicron. IMA earnestly appeals to everyone concerned to take the vaccination as priority agenda and focus attention to reach all the unreached and also ensuring the second dose is given to all the needy."
"At this juncture, IMA also appeals to the government to officially announce additional dose (of vaccine) be given to healthcare, frontline workers and immunocompromised individuals to augment the immunity," the doctors' body said.
Omicron has proved to be less potent in causing severe infections but definitely five to 10 times more contagious than the Delta variant. Hence, the government and all stakeholders should take proper steps to control the contagion by enhancing immunisation, the IMA stressed in a press release.
"IMA does not support the imposition of a travel ban. However, we appeal to all to avoid unnecessary travel, especially pleasure tourism and social gatherings. All our public transport systems should strictly adhere to the code of Covid protocol."
Noting that in African countries where the Omicron variant has spread widely, there is a sudden increase in the number of children getting infected and admitted to ICUs, the IMA said, appealing to all schools and colleges to strictly adhere to Covid protocols and ensure all adults there are vaccinated.
"IMA also demands the government should expedite the proposal for vaccination of children of 12 to 18 years at the earliest," it said.