The Centre on Wednesday said individuals who have recovered from the coronavirus infection should wait for three months before getting vaccinated for the virus. The decision was taken on the basis of fresh recommendations made by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19, the Union health ministry said in a release.

The period of three months will be applicable for individuals who tested positive as well as those who received treatment by the use of monoclonal antibodies or plasma therapy, the ministry said. The Centre added that those who get infected after receiving the first dose of the vaccine should also defer their second dose by three months.

Patients who have been hospitalised with some other serious general illness should wait for a period of four to eight weeks after being discharged, the health ministry added.

The new set of guidelines also cleared vaccination for all lactating women, while adding that the matter of inoculating pregnant women was under discussion by the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization.

The central government’s decision on vaccination for those infected by coronavirus came after the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization last week recommended deferring vaccination by six months after recovery.

Based on the panel’s decision, the government had also increased the gap between two doses of the Covishield vaccine to 12-16 weeks, from the earlier mandated interval of six to eight weeks. However, no changes were made to the dosage regimen of Covaxin, whose recommended gap period is four to six weeks.

Adar Poonawalla, chief of Covishield manufacturer Serum Institute of India, had welcomed the decision, suggesting it was “beneficial both from the efficacy and the immunogenicity standpoint”. United States’ top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci had also backed the move, contending that it was a “reasonable approach” to take when faced with a shortage of vaccines.

The government has not linked the move to a shortage of vaccines. But vaccination drives in several states have been hit due to paucity of vaccine doses since the third phase of the inoculation process made all adults eligible for the shot from May 1.

So far, over 18.63 crore dose of coronavirus vaccines have been administered in India, while nearly 4.10 crore beneficiaries have received both the doses.