The ongoing vaccination drive for teenagers in the 15-18 age bracket has further strengthened India’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, N.K. Arora, Chairman of the Covid-19 Working Group of National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), told IANS on Thursday.
“Vaccinating teenagers will give parents the confidence to send them to school and help them resume normal activities while maintaining Covid appropriate behaviour,” Arora said.
Since the beginning of the vaccination drive for the 15 to 18 age group on January 3, over three crore teens have been vaccinated with the first dose so far. As per an estimation, there are around 7.50 crore teens in this age bracket in India to whom vaccine shots will be administered.
Talking about Ahmedabad-based Zydus Cadilla’s ZyCovD vaccine, the world’s first plasmid-DNA vaccine approved for those above 12 years, Arora said, “Since it is the first DNA vaccine, the government wants to be doubly sure of its safety before providing it to children. So, its first one crore doses will be given to adults.”
“The vaccine was found to be absolutely safe and highly efficacious during the trials. We are sure that it will soon be available for children as well,” he said.
“Data shows that children are as susceptible to catching the infection as adults are. The vaccine protects against severe disease. The older teenagers are quite socially active and so they are at a higher risk of catching the virus as compared to younger kids.
“By vaccinating them, we are not only safeguarding them, but also stopping the chain of transmission to a great extent”, said Praveen Kumar, associate professor of paediatrics at Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi.
On vaccine’s side-effects among teens, Manju Puri, consultant gynaecologist at Lady Hardinge Medical College, said that it is a time-tested technology which is both safe and efficacious.
No major side-effects have been reported yet, she said, adding that children, like adults, may experience mild side-effects such as pain at the vaccine site, fatigue, or mild fever for a few days.