Covid vaccination of children in 12-14 years age group started in Delhi on Wednesday amid a steady decline in new coronavirus cases being reported in the city.
Day one of the exercise saw children arriving largely through 'walk-in for vaccination' and the numbers were very few at session sites.
Also, on Tuesday, authorities had said that on the starting day, it will be essentially a token exercise, with very few schools being used as Covid vaccination centres (CVCs).
About 6-7 lakh children in this age bracket in the city are eligible for vaccination to begin with, and the number would keep on increasing as days pass, official sources said on Tuesday.
Several CVCs across 11 districts in Delhi have been identified for the inoculation exercise.
Covid vaccination of children in 12-14 years age group started today in Delhi in the morning, a senior official said.
The city government has received 6,31,400 doses of Corbevax vaccine, official sources said on Tuesday, adding, training has been imparted to staff from all stakeholder departments for the exercise.
"I took my son and his friend, who is our neighbour, to a government school at J&K pocket at Dilshad Garden for vaccination. His friend's teacher had sent him a message on WhatsApp following which we got to know about the vaccination," said Nasreen, a resident of Dilshad Garden.
The CVC in-charge there said that about 13 students had come for the vaccination till afternoon and most of them study in the same school.
"Two to three children came from outside. We are hoping that more students will come in evening as the boys' shift starts from 1 pm. Our staff is also going to nearby areas, and informing people about the vaccination facility at the school," he added.
Officials at a centre in Greater Kailash-I said, the centre opened at 9 am, but not a single dose was administered till afternoon as "children have not arrived".
Pradeep Kumar, a vaccination officer said, “No one has arrived. It might be because people are not aware about the vaccination programme and moreover, it is a school day. We are expecting students to arrive for vaccination on weekend.”
The major issue with the vaccination is that each vial has 20 doses and in order to avoid wastage, 20 children must be present at a time, so that doses can be administered within hours of opening the vial.
Similar situation was seen at Kautilya Government Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya in nearby Chirag Enclave.
"There is lack of awareness. Children in schools are not aware about the programme. So we have asked school to inform parents about it. Moreover the CoWIN system is not updated," the official said.
The exercise for this age group is starting amid a steady fall in new Covid cases in the national capital.
Delhi on Tuesday reported 131 fresh COVID-19 cases and two deaths, while the positivity rate stood at 0.42 per cent, according to data shared by the city health department.
"We are all prepared. Training has been given to the staff by all stakeholder departments, vaccine doses have been received, and the education department has been assisting us in the exercise," a senior official told PTI on Tuesday.
"The challenge would be to ensure that the beneficiary coming for vaccination is not even a day younger than 12 years on any day of the vaccination," the official said.
"We will check Aadhaar card or school I-card to ensure the beneficiary is absolutely eligible as per the norm," he added.
There are software integration issues for this age group on CoWIN portal, since it is a new group, so strict scrutiny for the age validity will be done, and "so, mostly the exercise on day one will be done through walk-in", the official said.
The Centre on Tuesday had released guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination of children between 12-14 years, and said only Corbevax vaccine would be used for the beneficiaries of this age group.
Two doses of Biological E's intramuscular vaccine Corbevax would be administered to the beneficiaries in the 12-14 years age group at an interval of 28 days, the guidelines said.
According to the Centre's guidelines, vaccination of 12-14 years would be conducted through dedicated inoculation sessions to avoid their unintended vaccination with any other COVID-19 vaccines.