MUMBAI: After almost nine months since India began inoculating its adult population for Covid
, the wait for childrens’ vaccines seems to be over. But without any guidelines from the Centre for vaccinating the paediatric age group, the wait could be a bit longer, say experts.
Zydus Cadila’s DNAbased needle-less vaccine has got approval for the 12-17 age group, and Bharat Biotech
on Tuesday got a step closer with the expert committee recommending emergency use authorisation for Covaxin
for the 2-17 age group. Now, only the drug regulator’s approval is awaited.
“These approvals and recommendations are fine but the Centre hasn’t yet released guidelines for vaccinating the paediatric age group,” said a doctor.
Even as 93% of Mumbai’s 93.2 lakh adult population have got the first dose, the paediatric group comprising almost 30 lakh will have to wait longer for their shots.
Also, firms will need time to manufacture doses. “We don’t know if kids will need one or two shots, will the doses be diluted, or vials be smaller,” the doctor said.
BMC officials said paediatric vaccination could begin as early as a week after the guidelines are released.
BMC additional commissioner Suresh Kakani
said if the guidelines remain the same as for adults, the process could start soon. “If not, we will need to set up new centres and train our staff before starting any paediatric drive,” he said.
A doctor said norms would have to answer questions such as should paediatric vaccine centres be located within hospitals, where emergency care is at hand, or in neutral places that won’t intimidate the child.
While paediatric vaccination has been a subject of debate in India, many countries, including US and France, have long began vaccinating children over 12 years. Apart from Zydus and Bharat Biotech vaccines, Covovax is the third vaccine being tested on kids in India. It will be manufactured by Serum Institute of India