Free Covid Booster Dose: All adults will be able to get a free booster dose of the coronavirus vaccine at government centers as part of a special drive over the next 75 days from today, officials said on Wednesday.
The Free Covid Booster Dose campaign, aimed at improving the coverage of the third dose, will be organized as part of the government’s ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav‘ celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of India’s independence.
So far less than 1 percent of the target population of 77 crore in the age group of 18-59 have been given preventive doses.
However, around 26 per cent of the estimated 160 million eligible population aged 60 years and above as well as healthcare and frontline workers have received a Free Covid booster dose, news agency PTI quoted an official as saying.
“Most of the Indian population received its second dose nine months ago. Studies by ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) and other international research institutes have suggested that antibody levels decrease approximately six months after the primary vaccination with both doses… Giving boosters boosts the immune response,” the official said.
“Therefore the government is planning to launch a special campaign for 75 days during which persons in the age group of 18 to 59 years will be given free precautionary doses at government immunization centers starting from July 15,” he said.
The Union Health Ministry last week reduced the gap between the second and precautionary dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from nine to six months for all beneficiaries. It follows a recommendation of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI).
To accelerate the pace of vaccination and encourage booster shots, the government on 1 June launched the second round of ‘Har Ghar Dastak Abhiyan 2.0‘ in the states. The two-month program is going on now.
According to government data, 96 percent of India’s population has been given the first dose of the covid vaccine, while 87 percent people have taken both doses.
On 10 April this year, India began giving a precautionary dose of COVID-19 vaccines to all people above the age of 18 years.
The nationwide immunization drive started on January 16 last year, in which health workers were vaccinated in the first phase. The vaccination of frontline workers started from February 2 last year.
On March 1 last year, COVID-19 vaccination began for people aged 60 years and over and 45 years and above with specified comorbid conditions.
Free Covid Booster Dose Vaccination for all people over the age of 45 began on April 1 last year. The government then decided to expand the campaign by allowing everyone above the age of 18 to be vaccinated against Covid from May 1 last year.
The vaccination of people in the age group of 15-18 started from January 3 this year. The country started immunization of children in the age group of 12-14 from March 16.