No prescription needed for booster dose for 60+: Govt

NEW DELHI, 28 Dec: People aged 60 years and above with comorbidity will not be required to produce or submit any certificate from a doctor at the time of administration of the precaution dose of Covid-19 vaccine, the Centre told the states and union territories on Tuesday.

Such persons are expected to obtain the advice of their doctor before deciding to avail of the precaution dose or third dose.

In a letter to the states and UTs, union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that personnel to be deployed in election duty in the poll-bound states will be included in the category of frontline workers.

Eligibility of such beneficiaries for the precaution dose will be based on the date of administration of second dose as recorded in the Co-WIN system – completion of nine months, ie, 39 weeks from the date of administration of second dose – Bhushan said.

He informed that CoWIN will send reminder messages to all those eligible for precaution dose, which will be reflected in digital vaccination certificates.

Bhushan chaired a workshop through videoconference on Tuesday with all states and UTs to review the rollout of vaccination for the 15-18 age group and precautionary third dose for vulnerable categories – healthcare workers (HCW), frontline workers (FLW) and those in the 60-plus age group with comorbidity.

He said only Covaxin is to be administered to those in the 15-18 years age group, and that additional doses of the vaccine will be sent to all states and UTs.

The union government will share the supply schedule of Covaxin with all the states and UTs in the next few days, he said.

Potential beneficiaries can either register themselves on Co-WIN from 1 January or avail of a walk-in registration when vaccination commences from 3 January. Those with the birth year of 2007 or before will be eligible for vaccination under this category, he said.

“All established protocols regarding vaccination are to be followed for the 15-18 years age group. Beneficiaries are to wait for half-an-hour when they will be monitored for AEFI and will be eligible for the 2nd dose only after 28 days,” according to a health ministry statement.

The states were informed that they have the option to designate some Covid vaccination centre (CVC) for vaccination of the 15-18 age group exclusively, which can also be reflected on Co-WIN.

Dedicated CVCs would ensure that there is no confusion in administering the vaccines. For CVCs that are intended to serve all, the states were requested to ensure separate queues and vaccination teams for the 15-18 age group.

With regard to the administration of the precautionary dose, the union health secretary highlighted that nine months must have elapsed since the administration of the second dose to make the beneficiary eligible.

Drawing attention to the misinformation being propagated through various media regarding the requirement of a doctor’s certificate to establish comorbidity, he categorically emphasized that the union government has not issued any directions on the matter and prescriptions or certificates are not mandated to be produced at the vaccination centre for administration of the precaution dose.

The states and UTs were further advised to ensure orientation of vaccinators and vaccination team members for vaccination of the 15-18 age group. The states were exhorted to undertake proper planning in advance for distribution of Covaxin to identified session sites. To avoid mixing up of vaccines during administration, separate CVCs, separate session sites, separate queues and separate vaccination teams are to be strived for.

“All citizens, irrespective of their income status, are entitled to free Covid-19 vaccination at government vaccination centres,” Bhushan said in a letter.

Those who have the ability to pay are encouraged to use private hospitals’ vaccination centres. The previously declared price for each vaccine at private centres will remain applicable for these groups of beneficiaries, Bhushan said.

All healthcare workers and frontline workers who are for any reason presently registered on the Co-WIN system as citizens and are aged less than 60 years will have to get their status appropriately assigned to the HCW/FLW to avail the precaution dose.

However, in order to do so, they must produce the employment certificate in a prescribed format.

This facility will only be available at government vaccination centres in the onsite mode, the letter stated.

These guidelines will come into effect from 3 January and will be reviewed from time to time. (PTI)