NEW DELHI (BLOOMBERG) – India will begin vaccinating teenagers from the ages of 15 to 18 from Jan 3 and also administer booster Covid-19 vaccine doses for healthcare workers a week later, as Omicron-fuelled Covid-19 cases spike, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.
Citizens who are older than 60 years and suffer from co-morbidities can also get booster shots of Covid-19 vaccines in January, Modi said in a televised national address on Sunday (Dec 26).
“India needs to be vigilant about the spread of the coronavirus,” Modi said, adding that people should not pay attention to rumors nor panic about rising infection numbers.
India has so far reported 415 cases of Omicron infections from across 17 states, according to the latest data from the federal Health Ministry Saturday.
The South Asian nation’s confirmed Covid-19 cases so far total nearly 34.8 million.
“In our country, a nasal vaccine and the world’s first DNA vaccine will also start soon,” Modi said, adding that “since the beginning, India’s fight against Corona has been based on scientific principles, scientific opinions and scientific patterns.”
Besides widening the vaccination drive, Modi urged citizens to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour, but stopped short of announcing any nationwide curbs to stem Omicron’s spread.
His government has kept the budget loose to support the economy, while the nation’s central bank has vowed to keep monetary policy easy to ensure a durable recovery even as infections tick up.
“This is a material and a positive change in the country’s strategy against the virus,” said Abhay Agarwal, fund manager at Piper Serica Advisors Pvt.
“The investor community had been wondering on when India would expand its vaccination band as a number of countries have included the younger population in the inoculation plan.”