The Centre on Tuesday asked states and Union Territories to speed up the coverage of coronavirus vaccination among teens aged between 15 and 18 years, PTI reported. In a letter, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said it was important that the vaccination schedule is completed on time for effective protection against the virus.

The vaccination drive for those aged between 15 and 18 years started on January 3. To date, 63% of the beneficiaries in this age group have received the first dose of the vaccine.

For those aged between 15 and 17, Covaxin shots are being administered. For those 18 and above, both Covishield and Covaxin are being given.

“The vaccine used in this [15 to 17] group is Covaxin which has an interval of 28 days between two doses to complete the primary vaccination schedule,” Bhushan wrote in his letter, The Print reported. “Hence all the 42 lakh adolescents who received 1st dose on 3rd Jan ’22 have become eligible from 31st Jan ’22.”

Bhushan called for forming a communication strategy to inform the adolescent population and their caregivers about the timely completion of vaccination schedules and to “sustain their vaccine confidence”.

“It is important that the coverage of the second dose amongst adolescents is reviewed daily at your level at state/UT and similar review is undertaken at [the] district level as well,” the letter stated.

In the last 24 hours, 57 lakh doses of coronavirus vaccine were administered to all the eligible beneficiaries, according to the Centre. So far, 167.29 crore doses have been given to citizens.

India on Wednesday morning recorded 1,61,386 new coronavirus cases, pushing the infection tally in the country to 4,16,30,885 since the pandemic began in January 2020. The number of cases is 3.39% fewer than Tuesday’s tally of 1,67,059 infections.