Vaccination for everyone? The jury is still out | Delhi News - Times of India

Vaccination for everyone? The jury is still out | Delhi News – Times of India


NEW DELHI: Should everyone above the age of 18 be allowed to take the Covid-19 vaccine? The governments of Delhi, Maharashtra and a few other states seem to favour it.
Indian Medical Association has also written to the Centre seeking relaxation in the age criteria.
While the proponents believe that vaccinating the young will help control the spread of the disease, some experts advise caution and insist that inoculating those aged above 45, who are at a higher risk of mortality, should remain a priority.
The vaccination drive has twin objectives — to reduce serious cases needing hospitalisation and curtailing deaths.
The country-wide data as of April 1 showed that 40% of all positive cases and 88% of deaths occurred in the age group of 45 years and above.
Dr Lalit Kant, former head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at Indian Council of Medical Research, said it made perfect sense to first cater to the vulnerable age groups.
“By opening vaccination to all age groups, the threat to those at higher risk still remains. A higher number of vaccinations will not translate into rapid reduction of hospitalisations and deaths,” he added.
Another argument for opening up vaccination to all was to dent the second wave. Kant said the impact of vaccination on severe cases and deaths would be visible after 8-10 weeks of administering the vaccine, as seen in Israel. So, it was unlikely to have a major influence on the ongoing second wave.
“Currently, close to 90% of doses administered are of Covishield. Vaccination for all might strain the supply and also overwhelm the system,” added Kant.
Dr NK Mehra, emeritus scientist and former dean of AIIMS, also opined against opening vaccination for all. “A targeted approach will be better, like beginning vaccination for all in red and orange zones,” he added.
However, Dr SK Sarin, director of Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, said, “The young people have to go out and earn a living. They must be vaccinated for protection from the infection or severe symptoms caused by it. If they are immunised, the chances of them spreading the infection at home will also reduce.”
Dr Rajesh Chawla, senior consultant, pulmonary medicine at Apollo Hospital, said, “The government should decrease the age limit because it is the young population that goes out and brings back home the infection. They themselves might be asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, but can spread infection to the elderly, which can turn very severe.”


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