Amid rising Omicron cases, Maharashtra Minister Aaditya Thackeray today urged the Centre to allow booster shots, reduce the vaccine gap and bring down the cut-off age for inoculations to 15.
Aaditya Thackeray listed the three suggestions in a letter to Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya a day after a meeting of the Maharashtra Covid Task Force, which has suggested that restrictions on travellers, schools and public places should continue until more is known about Omicron.
I've written to Health Minister (GoI) Shri @mansukhmandviya ji, a few suggestions that have come from various interactions with doctors and those closely observing the covid situation closely, so that we can protect our citizens in the light of newly emerging variants. pic.twitter.com/XZcdXFNOYM— Aaditya Thackeray (@AUThackeray) December 7, 2021
All front-line workers and health care workers, the group that was first to receive Covid shots when vaccinations started early in the year, should be allowed a "third shot at their studied desire", said Mr Thackeray in his letter.
Reducing the minimum age for vaccination to 15 will "enable us to cover secondary schools and junior colleges with vaccine protection", he wrote.
The Shiv Sena leader also recommended that the dose gap be reduced for wider coverage. He said Mumbai has covered 100 per cent of those eligible with the first vaccine shot and more than 73% have received the second.
"If the gap between two doses is reduced to four weeks, just like for those applying to work or study abroad, the city will cover 100% of its population with the second dose by mid-January 2022, without asking for more vaccines or altering its delivery schedule," Mr Thackeray said.
With two cases emerging in Mumbai on Monday, Maharashtra now has 10 cases of the Omicron variant first detected in South Africa last month.
Across India, there are 23 Omicron cases and many of their contacts have tested positive, though the variant has not been established.
Yesterday, a panel that advises the government on vaccinations failed to take a call on additional Covid shots for those at risk and vaccinations for children. The group could not arrive at a consensus in a three-hour meeting, said reports.