New Delhi: India on Monday began giving a ‘precautionary dose’ of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine to people aged 60 and above, along with frontline workers and healthcare staff. There has been a six-fold increase in infections in the past week due to the fast-spreading Omicron variant.
India on Monday reported 1,79,723 new cases, most of them in the country’s biggest cities Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, where Omicron overtook Delta as the most prevalent variant of the virus.
“We are feeling fine. There are no side-effects, everyone should take the dose,” one of the senior citizens who took the dose at Delhi’s RML Hospital told news agency ANI.
The campaign has been launched across the country, with visuals from various states showing eligible populations taking doses to protect them against the heavily-mutated Omicron strain.
146 deaths were reported on Monday, bringing the figure to 483,936 for the first time since the pandemic hit India in early 2020. Only the United States and Brazil have recorded more deaths.
The rapidly spreading Omicron variant has spread infection to hundreds of healthcare and frontline workers, including police. Around 400 employees in Parliament have also tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the Budget session, prompting Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu to review the situation and direct officials to impose restrictions on staff attendance.
Officials familiar with the matter said, “In view of the matters, both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have sent one-third of their employees to work from home.”
In this campaign that started from January 10, the government is not mixing and matching the vaccines. This means that people who have received a dose of Covaxin will be given a third dose of the same vaccine at this stage of vaccination. Similarly, only one shot will be given to those receiving Coveshield.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Twitter on Monday morning, “The government is committed to providing additional protection to healthcare and frontline workers on priority basis.”
So far, about 67 percent of the 939 million adults in the country have been given both doses.
first published:Jan. 10, 2022, 11:53 a.m.