Free Covid booster dose for all adults: The Centre has started rolling out free Covid-19 booster doses for adults in the 18-59 category at government centres under a special drive. The free booster dose drive will continue for 75 days. The drive aims to improve the third-dose coverage and is being held as part of the ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of Independence.
So far, less than 1% of the target population of 77 crore in the 18-59 category have taken the precaution dose. However, nearly 26% of the estimated 16 crore eligible population above 60 years and healthcare and frontline workers have received the booster dose, PTI reported.
An official told PTI: “A majority of the Indian population got their second dose over nine months ago. Studies at ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) and other international research institutions have suggested that antibody levels wane around six months after the primary vaccination with both doses… giving a booster increases the immune response.”
“The government is therefore planning to start a special drive for 75 days during which individuals aged between 18 and 59 years will be administered precaution doses for free at government vaccination centres starting from July 15.”
Last week, the Union Health Ministry reduced the gap between the second and booster dose for all beneficiaries from nine to six months following a recommendation from the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization.
The Centre also launched the second round of the Har Ghar Dastak 2.0 on June 1 to increase booster dose coverage.
Government data shows 96% of the Indian population has received the first dose and 87% have taken both doses.
India began administering precaution doses vaccines to all adults from April 10. The vaccination drive began in January 2021 with healthcare and frontline workers getting inoculated in the first phase. On March 1, 2021, the government opened the vaccination drive for people over 60 years and those aged 45 and above with specified comorbidities.