‘Those above 45 yrs should get vaccinated before schools, colleges reopen’: Kerala govt

According to the health department report, 89.3% of people in Kerala have not been infected with the coronavirus.
Covid vaccination for the elderly
Covid vaccination for the elderly
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The Kerala Health Department has urged individuals above 45 years of age to get vaccinated before educational institutions in the state reopen (probably by June). This comes after the Union government opened the COVID-19 vaccination registration for all individuals above 45 years of age, even if they do not have comorbidities. The Kerala Health Department said that it has made all arrangements to vaccinate more people and insisted that it is necessary to take the vaccination at the earliest.

According to a report by the Health Department, 89.3% of people in Kerala were not infected with the coronavirus. “So do not be hesitant to get vaccinated,” the department urged the public in Kerala. The authorities have noted that the vaccination gives protection from SARS-CoV-2. By taking the vaccine shot, people are not only protecting themselves but also preventing the spreading of the virus to others, the report says. As of March 26, 29,33,594 doses of COVID-19 vaccine shots have been administered in Kerala, in both the first phase (health care workers and frontline workers) and the second phase (senior citizens and those between 45 and 59 years) together.

Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday said that both Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Serum Institute of India’s Covishield are completely safe and immunogenic, and as of now, there are no concerns about the safety of these vaccines being used in the country. He said this at the India Economic Conclave while responding to the growing concerns surrounding Covishield (the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine) after reports of incidents related to blood clotting emerged in a few European countries. 

However, after a preliminary review of such cases, the European Medicines Agency (EMA)'s safety committee confirmed that “the vaccine is not associated with an increase in the overall risk of blood clots and that the benefits of the vaccine in combating the still widespread threat of COVID-19 continue to outweigh the risk of side effects.” In India, all cases of adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) are monitored through a well-structured and robust surveillance system, Dr Harsh Vardhan said.

"The causality assessment of all serious and severe AEFIs is done by the designated AEFI committee to determine if the event is related to the vaccine or the vaccination process or otherwise. To date, according to current evidence, no significant adverse event following immunisation has been reported in India.

"Our national regulators have examined the efficacy and safety data from the clinical trials of Covishield and Covaxin. I would like to reiterate that both the COVID-19 vaccines being used in our country are completely safe and immunogenic. Presently, there are no concerns about the safety of the vaccines being used in India," he added.

On the vaccine-related side effects, Dr Harsh Vardhan said that of the total number of beneficiaries inoculated against COVID-19 in the country, the percentage of those who have reported serious AEFIs is 0.0002, "which is very less." These "select few cases" do not call for generalisation and their cause and effect need to be established, he said, adding, "We are taking cognisance of all scientific evidence while undertaking the causality assessment of AEFIs."

The Union Health Minister asserted that the COVID-19 vaccines are effective against coronavirus and its current variants, and that the government is keeping a watch on the evolving scenario. Responding to concerns regarding a low coverage of the eligible beneficiaries and vaccine hesitancy, Harsh Vardhan said the ongoing vaccination drive has a crucial role in the country's pandemic response by protecting those at the highest risk of mortality due to COVID-19. The coverage of the second dose of the vaccines among healthcare workers is 76.88% and among frontline workers, it is 71.94%, “which is adequate,” he added.

(With PTI input)

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