Over 3,800 children aged between 12 and 14 years were vaccinated against COVID-19 in Delhi on Wednesday as the inoculation exercise for the age group commenced amid a steady decline in the number of new cases of the infection. Over 2,300 children were vaccinated in Northeast Delhi on the first day of the exercise, while there was zero vaccination in Southeast district. The drive has begun with Biological E's Corbevax vaccine to be administered 28 days apart.
On the first day, children were inoculated largely through "walk-in" and the numbers were very few at the session sites. The authorities had earlier said it would essentially be a token exercise on the first day with very few schools being used as vaccination centres. About six to seven lakh children in the age bracket of 12 to 14 years are eligible for vaccination in the city.
"A token launch of Covid vaccination for the 12-14 years age group was done on the occasion of National Immunisation Day. About 3,800 children were vaccinated across Delhi," a senior health department official said. According to government data, 3,837 children were inoculated till 9.30 pm with Northeast district vaccinating the maximum number of children at 2,310, followed by North Delhi (362). Southeast district had zero vaccination on the first day of the exercise, while New Delhi saw four children being inoculated, according to the data.
The official said training and planning have been completed and the vaccination activity is expected to pick up over the next few days. "Amongst the smaller states, Delhi had a high coverage on the first day," the official added. Several Covid vaccination centres across the 11 districts of Delhi have been identified for the inoculation exercise. The Delhi government has received 6,31,400 doses of the Corbevax vaccine. A resident of Dilshad garden said she took her child and her neighbour's son to a government school at the J and K pocket of Dilshad Garden for vaccination after being informed about it by a school teacher.
The vaccination centre in-charge there said 13 students, mostly from the same school, had come for vaccination till afternoon. "Our staff are visiting the nearby areas and informing people about the vaccination facility at the school," he added. Officials at a vaccination centre in Greater Kailash-I said it opened at 9 am, but not a single dose was administered till afternoon. Pradeep Kumar, a vaccination officer, said, "No one arrived. It might be because people are not aware of the vaccination programme. Moreover, it is a school day. We are expecting students to arrive for vaccination on the weekend."
The major issue with the vaccination is that each vial has 20 doses and to avoid wastage, as many children should be present at a time. A similar situation was seen at the Kautilya Government Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya in nearby Chirag Enclave. "There is a lack of awareness... We have asked schools to inform parents about the vaccination programme. Moreover, the CoWIN system is not updated," the official said. Delhi reported 131 fresh COVID-19 cases and two deaths due to the viral disease on Tuesday, 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, 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 beneficiaries are not even a day younger than 12 years, the official said. The Centre had, on Tuesday, released guidelines for Covid vaccination of children aged 12-14 years and said only the Corbevax vaccine would be used for the beneficiaries in this age group. According to it, vaccination of 12-14 years would be conducted through dedicated inoculation sessions to avoid their unintended vaccination with any other COVID-19 vaccines.
With PTI Inputs