Monday 27 June 2022
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Teens of 15-18 years to be vaccinated beginning 3 January

Since children between 15-18 do not have voter ID cards and many may not have Aadhaar either, the authority is allowing school certificates and identity cards

India’s Covid-19 vaccine delivery platform will accept identity cards of children eligible for vaccination starting 3 January 2022, CEO of the National Authority and chairperson of the empowered committee for CoWIN RS Sharma said. He said in an interview that the system would be able to configure changes easily if the government decides to mix vaccines for a proposed booster dose.

Eligible teens may get themselves registered for this vaccination drive from 1 January 2022.

“Anybody who is born in 2007 or before will be able to get vaccines. Children aged between 15-18 do not have voter identity cards and many of them may not have too, so we are now allowing certificates and identity cards. There are currently 9 eligible documents to register on CoWIN, we will add school identity cards to this,” Sharma said in an interview.

RS Sharma is also the former chief of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the semi-government body tasked with rolling out the national identity project, Aadhaar.

CoWIN’s move to add identity cards as an identity document comes days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled significant additions to India’s vaccination plan amidst the Omicron variant scare.

The prime minister said that healthcare, frontline workers and senior citizens aged above 60 years with comorbidities would be eligible to receive a third precautionary dose of vaccine from 10 January 2022. He said teens aged 15-18 would be eligible to receive a jab starting 3 January 2022.

By some estimates, there are three crore healthcare workers, three crore frontline workers, and six-seven crore children who will be eligible in this leg of India’s vaccination drive. The gap between the second and the third dose will be at least nine months.

“A certificate for senior citizens with comorbidities will be required. The new vaccination certificate after the third dose will be generated in real- with a QR code and will be verifiable. This will have details of all three doses of vaccination and the brands used. We will also be sending out SMS-es to healthcare, frontline workers and senior citizens who will be eligible for vaccination. We will have no challenges related to the supply of vaccines,” Sharma said.

While it is still unclear if the Government will go for mixing of vaccines, wherein it may recommend a different vaccine for the third dose compared to the previous two, CoWIN is prepared to handle this scenario.

“I am not sure about that, whether the third dose will have to be different. But it should be very easy to configure in our system. The policy file and the APIs are separate. We will be able to configure our system accordingly. Our partners have to make similar configurations,” Sharma said.

Vaccination has gathered pace in India in recent months, with the country crossing the one billion or 100 crore milestone in October. While 90% of India’s 900 million adult population have received at least one dose of vaccine, over 60% are fully vaccinated, with two doses of vaccine.

Sharma said, while the last 10% is always a challenge, he expected the 60% to reach 90% though he did not specify a timeline. The government originally targeted full vaccination for adults by the end of 2021.

“Ninety% (for the first dose) is not a small number. Many countries haven’t achieved these numbers. The speed of vaccination has not reduced and we continue to vaccinate a huge number of people every day. The 60% will soon reach 90% but I don’t have a timeline,” he said.

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