Over 20 million teenagers aged 15-18 years have been given the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine since January 3, Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Saturday.
“Shielding young India against Covid-19. Over 2 crore children between the age group of 15-18 vaccinated against Covid-19 since 3rd January. Congratulations to all my young friends who got vaccinated,” Mandaviya tweeted.
His tweet was quoted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who congratulated eligible children of the age cohort and urged people to get vaccinated.
“Excellent! Well done my young friends. Let us continue this momentum. Urging everyone to follow all COVID-19 related protocols and get vaccinated, if you haven’t already,” Modi tweeted.
Since January 3, when the government opened vaccinations for children in the age group of 15-18 years, 20,226,790 teenagers have been vaccinated with the first shot of Covaxin, the central government’s CoWIN dashboard data showed.
Uttar Pradesh topped the list of states that administered the most shots to this age category, with 1,715,615 children receiving the jab between January 3 and 7. Tamil Nadu vaccinated 1,463,079 children in the same period. In Maharashtra, 1,483,478 children were vaccinated. In Delhi, 204,902 children have been vaccinated since the drive began.
India started its vaccination drive for teenagers on January 3, administering Covaxin for this age group in all states, which according to the central government requires a waiting time of 28 days between two doses.
Since this age category is a mobile group, which has a comparatively greater level of interaction with the outside world, it is imperative that the maximum number of teenagers in this cohort is vaccinated at the earliest, according to Dr Piyush Gupta, former president of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics and head of the paediatrics department at the University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi.
“The 15-18 age category are a priority because these are the children who will be going for their board exams in a couple of months,” Dr Gupta said. “They cannot be held hostage for long because they have to go out, take their exams, sit in examination halls and mingle with other students. So, they have to be made free of this risk.”