Amid Covid-19 surge in China and elsewhere abroad, the importance of booster doses of coronavirus vaccine is being highlighted in India.
In the high-level meeting to review India's Covid-19 situation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed officials to increase the coverage of booster doses, dubbed precaution doses by the Government of India.
Besides Modi, top doctors body Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also asked people to get their booster doses.
Vaccines train the human immune system to fight the virus. They prevent death and severe disease and are also known to reduce transmission. Most vaccines have two doses. Since vaccine-induced protection is known to wane over time, booster doses are taken to update the protection.
What did PM Modi say?
Modi reviewed the Indian Covid-19 situation on Thursday. Among other things, he said that booster doses coverage should be increased.
While speaking of Covid-appropriate behaviour, Modi also touched upon the subject of booster doses.
"Prime Minister urged everyone to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour at all times, especially in view of the upcoming festive season, including wearing masks in crowded public places. Prime Minister also urged that that precaution dose may be encouraged especially for vulnerable and elderly groups," said a statement released by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
What has IMA said?
Among other measures, the IMA in a statement released on Thursday highlighted the importance of booster doses.
In view of the sudden surge of COVID cases in different countries, the Indian Medical Association alerts and appeals to the public to follow COVID appropriate behaviour with immediate effect. pic.twitter.com/i0uLlQ2Dqx— ANI (@ANI) December 22, 2022
The IMA advises the following steps:
- Face masks to be used in all public places
- Social distancing is to be maintained
- Regular handwashing with soap and water or sanitisers
- Public gatherings like marriages, political or social meetings etc. to be avoided
- Avoid international travel
- Consult your doctor in case of any symptoms like fever, sore throat, cough, loose motions, etc.
- Get your Covid vaccination including precautionary dose at the earliest
- Follow the government advisory from time to time
Very little booster doses coverage
While India has relatively higher coverage of first and second doses of coronavirus vaccines, the coverage of booster dose is very low. It has been flagged repeatedly by experts.
Member (Health) of NITI Aayog Dr VK Paul on Wednesday said only 27-28 per cent people have taken precaution doses. Highlighting this, he urged the public to take precaution doses.
Experts also flagged during the Covid-19 surge in Delhi earlier this year that people are not interested in getting booster doses. They also highlighted the importance of getting boosters. Earlier too, the Union government urged states and Union territories (UTs) to increase vaccination.
"Fewer people are opting for Covid-19 precaution dose in Delhi in the last several days, even as the number of coronavirus cases reported in the national capital has registered a record rise in the past one week," reported Outlook at the time.
In a letter dated August 5, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to seven states, including Delhi, that the pace of vaccination must be improved.
He wrote, "States should aim to increase the pace of vaccination for all eligible population and accelerate the administration of free precaution doses for 18-plus eligible population at all Government Covid Vaccination Centres (CVCs) under the 'COVID Vaccination Amrit Mahotsav' till September 30."
(with PTI inputs)