The vaccinated people in India are looking for medical advice about the third dose as many other vaccine-surplus countries start with booster doses of Covid-19 vaccines or announce to do the same.
Mostly, the people awaiting the third jab include healthcare workers as they are at the frontline and were vaccinated as early as January. India does not have any policy on booster vaccination as only half of the population have received a single does and only 15% have been fully vaccinated.
According to many doctors and health experts, there is an increase in the number of enquiries about the third jab and many have come across from high-net-worth individuals (HNIs) about Covaxin who have taken Covishield and vice versa as mRNA vaccines are not available. However, the government is rightly focused on providing the first and second doses to the people.
The hospitals have made the priority to first get people vaccinated as there is a limited stock of vaccines, even as the healthcare workers inquire about the booster dose.
NITI Aayog member, VK Paul had recently mentioned that the government is not considering booster jabs as there is no recommendation for it from the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.
However, the chairman of Serum Institute of India, Cyrus Poonawalla had also said that he had taken a third dose because after six months, the antibodies go down. He also mentioned that seven to eight thousand SII employees have been given the third dose.
Many other hospitals like Manipal Hospitals have been getting many queries from immunocompromised patients about the third dose. However, other people who are fully vaccinated, except for immunocompromised and healthcare workers are also interested in the booster dose due to less knowledge about it.
Many studies have been conducted that shows the Covid-19 vaccine’s immunity declines over a period of time, it still does not make the third dose necessary. Experts believe that India should focus on getting all the people vaccinated before making a decision about the third jab.
There are also ethical concerns regarding the provision of a third dose of vaccine when the majority of the world’s population remains unvaccinated. Earlier this month, the World Health Organization called for a halt to booster doses at least by the end of September. It was when countries such as Israel, Bahrain, the UAE had already started providing third jabs and others such as Germany and the UK were determined to do so in September.