Niti Aayog Member (Health) Dr. VK Paul on Thursday said that vaccinating children was not a condition for reopening schools. He said this criterion was not acceptable anywhere in the world. The response comes amid demands to ensure vaccination of children before the reopening of schools in the country.
"Vaccinating children is not a condition for reopening schools. This criterion is not acceptable anywhere in the world, no scientific body, epidemiological evidence suggests it as a condition...However, vaccination of staff is desirable," Dr. Paul said at a press conference of the Health Ministry on Thursday.
Dr. Paul said government is "actively working" in the direction of scientific validation of the vaccines for potential use in children.
"Only a few nations have introduced vaccination for children, no WHO recommendation for it...Govt is working actively in direction of scientific validation of our vaccines for potential use in children. Zydus vaccine already licensed for children," he said.
Paul further noted that about 72 crore vaccine doses have been administered so far. "It's clear that two doses show complete protection, 58% above 18 years given single dose, it should be 100%. No one should be left behind...About 72 crore vaccine doses given, those left should get administered to develop herd immunity," he said.
Meanwhile, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that the pace of vaccination and coverage is "rapidly increasing". The average per-day dose administered has increase from 20 lakhs in May to 78 lakhs in September. This number is expected to climb even higher, he said.
"We have administered more vaccines in first 7 days of Sept than in 30 days of May. 86 lakh doses administered in last 24 hours. We should increase pace of vaccination before festivals. States & Centre should work to vaccinate vulnerable population," Bhushan said.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) advised "low-key" celebrations of festivals to avoid the spread of the infection. ICMR's Dr. Balram Bhargava stressed on practicing a responsible travel rather than revenge travel.
"We are developing a COVID-19 vaccine tracker with synergised data giving a week by week update of doses... It will be up on the Health Ministry's website in a few days' time," Dr. Bhargava said.