India says only Covaxin COVID-19 shot to be given to those aged 15 to 18

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COVID-19 vaccination in New Delhi

BENGALURU (Reuters) -Bharat Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine, Covaxin, will be the only shot available to children aged 15 to 18 when inoculation begins for them from Jan. 3, the Indian health ministry https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/GuidelinesforCOVID19VaccinationofChildrenbetween15to18yearsandPrecautionDosetoHCWsFLWs&60populationwithcomorbidities.pdf said in its guidelines released on Monday.

"This (Covaxin) is the only vaccine with emergency use listing for the age-group 15-18," the federal health ministry said on Monday.

COVID-19 infections are decreasing in India, with 6,642 new cases reported on average each day. That represents 2% of the highest daily average reported on May 9. There have been 34.8 million infections and nearly 480,000 deaths coronavirus-related deaths reported in the country since the pandemic began.

However, India has reported a swift rise in Omicron cases, with the number of overall infections crossing 400 across 17 Indian states.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has been accelerating its vaccination campaign, administering at least one dose to 90% of the eligible 944 million population, while 62% have taken both doses.

As millions still await second shots, the authorities will now start offering booster shots to healthcare and frontline workers, who suffered from an overwhelming second-wave of the virus in the summer that killed tens of thousands.

Medical experts have said India needs to double down on its vaccination campaign and expand coverage to avert another possible surge in infections particularly in the vast hinterlands where healthcare facilities are sparse.

Modi has urged citizens to continue to wear facemasks and follow other COVID-19 protocols.

The federal government has also urged states to impose curbs on overcrowding in the festive season until the new year and a few states have partially banned public celebrations.

(Reporting by Shivani Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni and Louise Heavens)

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