Saturday, Oct 08, 2022

Covid-19 Booster Dose | No Mix-And-Match, Walk-In Allowed: All You Need To Know

As India rolls out 'precautionary doses' for frontline workers on January 10, here is all you need to know about who is eligible, how to get registered and the need for boosters.

Covid-19 vaccine precautionary doses to be given from January 10 in India Pixabay

Amid a spike in Omicron cases, India will start administering the "Precautionary dose" of Covid-from Monday in a bid to curb fresh outbreaks of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, driven this time by its Omicron variant.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 24 announced precautionary shots for vulnerable populations and those at higher risk of contracting Covid-19 amid a growing chorus for booster doses by several states. The Centre has already rolled out vaccinations for children aged 15-18 on January 3.

What vaccines are available for use as boosters in India?

India has officially approved eight vaccines for emergency use. As of now, however, only three vaccines - Serum Institute of India's Covishield, Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and the Russia-made vaccine Sputnik V have been approved for use as boosters. The two newly approved vaccines - Corbevax and Covovax will not be used as precautionary doses, despite being initially pitched as boosters.

Can you get mix-and-match vaccines?

In a statement to media last Wednesday, India's Covid task force chief Dr VK Paul said that there will be no mix-and-match of vaccines when getting booster shots. This means that persons vaccinated with two shots of Covishield can only be given a third Covishield dose and those with Covaxin can only get a Covaxin booster dose.

Who are eligible to get the third jab?

At present, the precautionary or booster doses have been made available only to vulnerable sections of the population. These include health workers, frontline workers and senior citizens (60 plus) living with comorbidities. These include hypertension, diabetes and other chronic diseases. However, boosters will only be given to those among the eligible population who took the second Covid vaccine nine months ago, meaning there must be a nine-month gap between second and third doses.

How to get the third dose?

Registrations for the precautionary dose for frontline workers and comorbid senior citizens went live on the COWIN app on Saturday itself. However, the union health ministry said that those seeking the third jab do not need to register first and that they can simply walk into a vaccination centre and get the jab. While doctor's certificates are not mandatory for getting booster shots, consulting a doctor beforehand is advisable.

Will a booster dose help fight against Covid-19?

Several scientists and researchers have found booster shots to increase immunity and protection against the virus among the individuals who get it. A recently concluded study by the UK Health Security Agency (UKSHA) showed that a third top-up booster dose of a Covid vaccine provides high levels of protection against severe disease from the Omicron variant among older adults. The analysis showed that around three months after the third jab, protection against hospitalisation among those aged 65 and over remains at about 90 per cent.

The centre's announcement for booster came after demands from several states and union territory governments including Delhi who sought a third jab to immunise those at higher risk of re-infection or severe disease.