Coronavirus vaccination for children between 15 to 18 years of age began from Monday amid a surge of cases in India driven by the Omicron variant.
For those aged between 15 and 17, Covaxin shots are being administered. For those 18 and above, both Covishield and Covaxin are being given.
Over 40 lakh children received their first dose till 8 pm on Monday, said Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya.
In Delhi, 20,998 children were administered vaccine doses till 6 pm. The highest number of vaccines were administered in the South West Delhi district (2,667), followed by East Delhi (2,268) and New Delhi (2,034).
At the NESCO vaccination centre in Mumbai’s Goregaon area, Covaxin shots had been administered to over 1,000 teenagers as of Monday afternoon.
Some of the beneficiaries at the vaccination centre said that they had problems while trying to book a slot on the government’s CoWin portal, while others said that they were able to schedule an appointment easily.
Monika Rathe, a 15-year-old student in Mumbai, told Scroll.in that she “did not have to try for hours to book a slot”.
Rathe’s friend Sunaina Devdas, however, said that she decided to walk into the vaccination centre to get a shot as she could not book one for Monday. “There is a long queue but they allowed me to walk in without a slot,” she said.
Rajan Yadav, a volunteer, said that a huge crowd of teenagers had gathered outside the centre between 8 am to 10 am. “We had technical issues with the CoWin app,” he told Scroll.in. “But after half-an-hour or so, the app started functioning smoothly. We have a lot of guards for crowd control. Eventually the process became smooth.”
Another volunteer at the registration desk said that when they tried to create a new session for vaccination of the 15 to 17 age group on the CoWin app, it took a long time. “The system is slow, but it is the first day,” he said. “We expected these hiccups.”
In Mumbai, vaccinations will be done at nine big Covid-19 centres, reported The Indian Express. Apart from the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Hospital at Byculla, where teenage children of only the railway employees would be administered the vaccine, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said.
In Delhi, inoculation for children began at 159 government hospitals, primary healthcare facilities, and government schools, reported The Indian Express. There are at least 1.01 million children who are eligible to get the first dose, according to data shared by the Centre. The drive would be expanded on Tuesday in a “camp mode” at private schools with over 500 students.
Gujarat’s vaccination drive began with the state health department targeting vaccinations for 36 lakh beneficiaries in the category in one week, according to the newspaper. Vaccinations in Punjab were likely to take a hit as over 16,000 paramedical staff are protesting to get an increase in pay and allowances.
Telangana Health Minister T Harish Rao inaugurated the state’s Covid-19 vaccination drive for the teenagers. The state government has set up 1,014 vaccination centres for the age group.
The children’s vaccination programme, which is being carried out in consultation with schools, will be held at hospitals and health centres, NDTV reported. Several schools and other educational institutions have been converted into vaccination centres as well.
As of 2 pm on Monday, 12,72,212 children between 15 and 18 years of age have been vaccinated on the first day, the government’s CoWin portal said.
Children can book their vaccination slots using their parents’ existing CoWIN accounts or register by creating a new account through a unique mobile number. They can register on site too by the verifier or the person administering the vaccine.
On December 25, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that the vaccination programme will be opened to children over the age of 15 to help make “India’s battle against coronavirus stronger”. Currently, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin is the only vaccine that has received emergency use listing from the Drugs Controller General of India for children.
Ensure shots are not mixed up: Health ministry
Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Sunday asked the states and Union Territories to ensure that coronavirus vaccines meant for children are not mixed up with those set aside for adults.
Adults are also eligible to take Covishield and Sputnik V shots apart from Covaxin.
The health ministry suggested that separate Covid-19 vaccination centres be set up for children, along with separate session sites and separate queues.
“States/UTs were also advised to share their requirement of vaccine doses through district wise estimation of beneficiaries using Co-WIN,” the health ministry said. “They were urged to plan for the distribution of Covaxin to identified session sites well in advance and publish sessions for at least 15 days to provide sufficient visibility.”