Should India Expand Its COVID-19 Vaccination Programme To Include All?

New Delhi: Even while the country is successfully going ahead with its vaccination programme, there is a divided opinion on whether India should expand the eligibility criteria for vaccination against COVID-19? The opinion on the issue is divided among leading public health specialists and policymakers involved in the management of the pandemic.

Dr SK Sarin, Director of Delhi-based Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS), said that the current rate of vaccination was low. “We should try to remove the clause of specified comorbidities. Anyone above 45 years of age should be allowed to take the vaccine,” he told Times Of India (TOI).

“In India, we have so many people with undetected fatty liver, diabetes and other comorbidities. They are as vulnerable as the existing beneficiaries to develop complications on contracting COVID-19 and, therefore, we should prioritise them in our mass immunisation programme,” the ILBS director, who headed the committee of experts for COVID-19 management committee in Delhi was quoted as saying.

Dr Ambrish Mithal, chairman and head of endocrinology and diabetes at Max healthcare, also said that the eligibility criteria for vaccination against COVID-19 should be expnaded. “The government should lower the age cut-off. Also, we should target groups that work in closed spaces such as offices, banks and courts, he told TOI.

“The eligibility criteria for vaccination can be expanded only when there is enough supply to meet the increased demand. Otherwise, the vulnerable groups identified for immunisation in the current phase would be bereft of the second dose, which is necessary to develop immunity against the viral infection,” a senior doctor, who is part of the national task force was quoted as saying in the report.

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