Children need not be vaccinated for schools to reopen, NITI Aayog’s Member, Health, Dr V.K. Paul announced on Thursday.
“Nowhere in the world has vaccination of children been set up as a criteria or condition to reopen schools. All we need is to curb the spread of infection which can only be ensured through complete vaccination of parents, teachers and other staff members of the school,” said Paul while answering a question at a press conference on the actions taken, preparedness and updates on Covid-19.
“However, we need to ensure that classes are taken in an open surrounding with a good ventilation and children, along with the entire teaching and non-teaching staff, strictly adhering to the Covid-19 guidelines.”
On the number of vaccines being tested for children, he said: “Firstly, this topic is still an evolving scientific and public health discourse. Only a few nations have introduced vaccination for children and there is no WHO recommendation to move ahead in this direction because of low mortality rate and high incidents of asymptomatic infection.”
“Despite that India is working actively in the direction of scientific validation of our vaccine for potential use in children.
“As of now we have Zydus (Cadila) which is already licensed for children. We have details of the stockpile and our scientific bodies are doing research on the ways it could be administered,” Paul added.
“Covaxin’s trial in children is almost on the verge of completion. Once we have the results, it would be readily available to be potentially given to our younger generation. In this way, we will have yet another option.”
Similarly, some other vaccines are also in line, he added.
While children were left untouched by the SARS-COV-2 virus during the first wave in 2020, a significant number of those below 18 years of age tested positive in April and May this year – a time when India witnessed a devastating second wave due to a new Delta variant. Since then, the discussion around vaccination of children and adolescents has picked up pace.