‘Administer booster shots to frontline workers first’

Monika Yadav | | Updated on: Dec 06, 2021
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Risk of waning immunity, high exposure place them ahead of rest: NTAGI

A consensus seems to be evolving among members of National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) to give booster doses to frontline and healthcare workers in the first phase.

NTAGI held a meeting on Monday amid growing concerns over the new Covid-19 variant Omicron, but decided to take a call on over the timeline and other steps related to booster dose policy at its next meeting.

However, sources said the decision on the booster shots should not be linked to Omicron.

“Booster dose has nothing to do with the Omicron. The government has been planning to frame a policy on booster doses for the last three months, much before Omicron was detected. Healthcare and frontline workers are at high risk due to continuous exposure to the virus, so they should be given a booster dose,” sources said.

A top health expert, also a member of the NTAGI, said vaccine stock expiration is not the criterion to decide on booster dose.

Contradictory views

Although a consensus is emerging on booster shots for frontline workers, many are against taking any decision in haste. A senior scientist at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) told BusinessLine that the focus should be on encouraging people to get themselves fully-vaccinated.

“Vaccines don’t prevent the infection; they modify the disease. Omicron is a milder disease-causing variant so it doesn’t make sense to give a booster dose,” he said.

However, other members present at the meeting said frontline workers are the most exposed. Also, since they were the first to get vaccinated, there is a risk of waning immunity. “This is one of the reasons for this category to be considered for a booster shot,” said an NTGAI member.

Covid-19 count

Meanwhile, the Covid-19 count was 8,306 cases on Monday. While some districts in Kerala, Jammu & Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Odisha and Mizoram witnessed a spike in the last two weeks, the overall count remained less than 10,000 cases.

Two new cases of Omicron were reported in Mumbai on Monday, taking to a total of 10 cases registered so far in the State and 23 in India.

Published on December 06, 2021

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