Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced that India’s vaccination programme will be opened to children over the age of 15 from January 3. He also said that a “precautionary dose” would be administered to healthcare workers and those over 60 years with co-morbidities from January 10.

“The decision [to vaccinate children] will help in making India’s battle against the coronavirus stronger, and it will also ease the worries of the parents of the children going to schools and colleges,” the prime minister said.

Modi said that his administration decided to expand the vaccination programme from January after advice from medical experts.

“We relied on scientific evidence to figure out how the vaccine shots should be given, on the gap between the two doses, when the rest of the healthy adult population should be administered the vaccine, and when those who contracted Covid-19 could be immunised,” the prime minister said.

Modi also appealed to the public to remain alert and be cautious, as the country records a surge in Covid-19 cases owing to the Omicron variant. He advised citizens to ensure that coronavirus protocols are maintained with sustained use of masks and regular washing of hands.

The demand for booster doses of the coronavirus vaccine grew stronger recently, with the discovery of the Omicron variant.

India currently has 415 cases of the new variant. The Centre on Saturday decided to send teams to 10 states with a high Covid caseload, to monitor the situation. The states also include those that have reported cases of the Omicron variant of the virus.