Vaccination for children with comorbities will begin in December and that will be followed by the vaccine rollout for healthy children, somewhere in the first quarter of next year, Dr NK Arora, chairman of the country's Covid Task Force, has told NDTV today. There is also an effort to reduce the number of doses of ZyCoV-D - the Zydus-Cadilla vaccine from three to two doses, he said.
Like the vaccination in adults, a "prioritisation process is in place" for the country's 44 crore children, and a list of comorbidities is being prepared, he said.
"We will go in a stepwise manner. But ultimately, I think somewhere in the latter half of December, I think we should be able to start the paediatric vaccination for priority children. And soon as soon as we finish these, which are 10 to 15 per cent, we move on to healthy children," Dr Arora told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
Outlining the plan, he said while they are waiting for the dosage trial results of ZyCov-D, "Covaxin has also finished trial and we are expecting by December-end and Covovax (from Serum Institute of India) also to finish their paediatric trial," he said.
Asked why the authorities are going ahead with with ZyCoV-D or Covishield for children without the approval of the WHO, he said, "We have seen the data, there are no safety concerns" as these are all inactivated vaccines.
Contending that opening of schools is "almost like an emergency" as the children are suffering from "cognitive and intellectual, physical and all sort of social developmental issues", Dr Arora said, "I would request the whole country this state governments and the private sector schools that schools must be open".
"Parents should send their children because we have a good a cohort of immunised adults. And special efforts have been made that all schools and staff are immunized. Parents should see that all adults in their families where children are going to school are also immunised, so that children are covered by a ring of protection. In addition to that ... most of the children are already infected. So they are protected in a way," he said.