People familiar with the development said that government experts are finalising a list of comorbidities that will make children in India eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, and that a paediatrician’s clearance may be required to receive the anti-Covid shot.
“Several top experts in the field are being consulted to determine how best to incorporate [Covid-19] vaccination among children into the programme.” “Because it involves children, people are taking their time,” said a government official familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified. “Guidelines on a list of specified comorbidities, as well as other procedural clarifications, should be available shortly.”
The Covid-19 vaccination drive for children is likely to be introduced next month in a phased manner. It could start with giving anti-Covid shots to those aged 12 and above, much like there was a phased approach with the country’s adult population, with children considered vulnerable to Covid-19 getting the first jabs.
Zydus Healthcare’s Covid-19 vaccine, ZyCoV-D, which received emergency-use authorisation last month, has been tested in those aged 12 and above.
“The list of comorbidities will be specified as it was done in [the case of] adults. While age was a major criterion for adults, in the case of children, comorbid conditions are likely to be the deciding factor for eligibility. The specified condition may need confirmation from a certified doctor, and whether it’s okay to take the shot. The guidelines will clarify these things,” said the government official.
Health-related conditions that are likely to be included on the list are all types of cancers, congenital heart disease, chronic liver and kidney diseases, and lung-related ailments.
Children who have undergone an organ transplant will also be prioritised.
Meanwhile, the national drugs regulator continues to analyse Covaxin data before granting approval for emergency use in children, said union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday, even though an expert committee of the Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation (CDSCO) already recommended its use in children two weeks ago.
“This is a sensitive matter as it deals with children. Therefore, the government has been clear and taken a stand, from the start, to not interfere in the decision-making on this technical topic. Let technical experts handle it,” said Mandaviya.
“However, according to the information that I have, the technical committee has granted its approval on the matter, and the data is being further analysed. Decision on the [Covid-19] vaccine’s use in children will be based on the outcome of that analysis. The analysis is not only based on local data, but also on what’s the global trend, as it deals with children,” the health minister said.