Why a gap of 9-12 months between ‘precaution dose’ and second jab is important

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a televised address to the nation on Saturday night, announced that a “precaution dose” for frontline workers, and people with co-morbidities above 60 years of age, would be administered from January 10, 2022.

The decision was taken amid reports of rising Omicron variant cases in the country. “In India, many people have been found to be infected with Omicron. I would urge all of you not to panic, be careful and alert. Remember to wash hands and mask,” he said.

The likely gap between the second dose of Covid-19 vaccine and the third, being called a “precaution dose”, is likely to be nine to 12 months, as per reports. However, the specific gaps for the vaccines — Covishield and Covaxin — is being worked out.

As per Dr Trupti Gilada, infectious disease specialist, Masina Hospital, Byculla, Mumbai, 9-12 months holds a “right balance”.

“Although International studies have shown that Covid-19 antibody levels post primary vaccination starts waning at around six weeks, this evidence from Indian studies is still awaited. Also, a large proportion of Indians got immunity through the natural infection in the second wave. In these two regards, the 9-12 months seems like the right balance, because a booster coming in too early is not required and a booster that comes too late might make the population susceptible once again,” Dr Gilada said.

According to PM Modi, 61 per cent of India’s adult population has received both doses while 90 per cent has received the first dose. This also means there will be a gap of at least nine months, explained Dr Shuchin Bajaj, founder director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals.

“India will, most likely, be advising a gap of nine months because we are still looking to get the second dose for a lot of people in the country as only 61 per cent have received the second dose. So there is automatically a big gap needed to cover the entire adult population. We also need to give vaccination to 15 to 18 year old. So, right now that interval is required,” Dr Bajaj explained.

As per the address, children between the age of 15-18 years will also be administered vaccination starting January 3, 2022.

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