India to commence vaccination for children aged 15-18 and booster shot for individual above 60 from January

92nd Taskforce Briefing on Covid-19. Photo: Screengrab

Dharamshala: Three key issues concerning the vaccination program, new Covid variant omicron, and precautionary measures to tackle the Omicron were highlighted by the central task force committee during a meeting held last Tuesday.

Informing the decision of the committee, Deputy Secretary Tenzin Kunsang (Health Dept.) said schools and monastic institutions were elucidated on the related information and guidelines including the registration process concerning vaccination for children below 18 following the announcement of the central government to begin vaccine registration for children below 18 from 1 January 2022. Accordingly, the Health Department request Tibetans to submit the list of vaccine-eligible children through their respective settlement office. Likewise, unvaccinated adults were also urged to get themselves vaccinated.

“The committee requests each and every individual Tibetan to cooperate with the guidelines and directives issued by the Health Department and the respective state government to combat the omicron variant which is known for its rapid spread than any other variants till now” stated Deputy Secretary Kunsang.

People are also advised to prioritize mental health in addition to physical well-being during the pandemic. Anyone struggling with psychological impact induced by the pandemic is directed to contact the helpline numbers provided on the official webpage of Department of Health. The Mental Health Desk of DoH provides tele-counseling to anyone coping with emotional crisis and anxiety related to COVID-19.

Updating the Covid status of the last seven days, sMenpa Tsamchoe reported the data of the committee according to which, 340 Tibetans took the weekly Covid test, and out of the lot, 12 were tested positive. The oldest patient was 62 and the youngest was 19. Up until now, 6,988 Tibetans in India and Nepal are reportedly infected by the Covid19; however, 6,815 have recovered while 162 have died, said sMenpa Tsamchoe. 11 Tibetans are still active, she added.

Meanwhile, the number of Covid cases in India up to now stands at 3.48 Cr, and 91,361 are still active. In addition, India is also facing a gradual spread of the Omicron variant. According to the latest official report, the Omicron case tally has risen to 961 out of which, major cases are reported from Delhi with 263 cases followed by Maharashtra with 252 cases and Gujarat with 97 cases. Of the 961 cases, however, 320 Omicron cases have recovered or been discharged.

Updating the vaccination record of the Tibetan community, sMenpa Tsamchoe reported 46,782 Tibetans in India to be fully vaccinated against the Covid-19 while 3496 were partially vaccinated.

As for the vaccination tally in Nepal, 6989 are reportedly fully vaccinated while only 1 individual is partially vaccinated.

Alerting on the escalating cases of Covid worldwide particularly in the U.S, European countries such as France, Italy and England, Dr Namdol said that India too is likely to see a rise in cases given the sudden increase in daily cases reported in the country. Experts also predict a surge in the cases at the beginning of 2022 that may be taken as the country’s third wave of Covid. However, experts also believe that the impact of this third wave will not be as severe as the first and the second wave. Additionally, the third wave as per the scientific predictions is likely to be short-lived.

Given India’s increasing record of the Omicron cases in addition to an increase in daily Covid cases, the central government has decided to commence vaccination for children in the age group of 15-18 years from 3rd January 2022. The government will also commence a booster shot for health care workers and frontline workers starting from 10th January 2022. This new booster shot or precaution shot will also be provided to all persons above 60 years with comorbidities who are fully vaccinated.