Mumbai: The paediatric taskforce on Covid-19 in the state, headed by Dr Suhas Prabhu, has called for the commencement of vaccination of children in the 15-18 age group at centers currently in use for adults. In case of reluctance or hesitancy by parents, the taskforce at its meeting suggested that the drive could be carried out in schools and colleges.
‘‘There is no reason why the currently set up vaccination centres cannot go ahead and vaccinate children, just as they have been doing for adults so far. Taskforce members are agreed that the drive so far has been well-conducted at almost all the public and the few private centres set up so far and the infrastructure is already there and the methodology is set,’’ said state government sources.
State government sources told The Free Press Journal, ‘‘The taskforce was unanimous that vaccination needs to be undertaken as per the guidelines issued by the Centre. The presence of a paediatrician at the vaccination centres currently used for adults will not be necessary but an MBBS doctor can be deployed for supervision. Besides, local paediatricians can be informed so that they can be called in an emergency.’’ As far as parental consent is concerned, the taskforce suggested that the parents could register the name of their children on the CoWin portal, which would be considered as implied consent. They have also suggested the option of publishing a special consent form that needs to be filled by parents ahead of the vaccination schedule.
Also, some members of the taskforce suggested that schools could schedule slots at the vaccination centre and take the students in groups, which would boost the confidence of the children. ‘‘The students will also feel comfortable,’’ sources said.
The taskforce conducted a comprehensive review of the present status of the pandemic and the Omicron variant and took a decision to step up monitoring before making recommendations to the state government for further measures. However, it did not discuss the issue with regard to the closure of schools and colleges, as it has decided to keep a watch on developments.
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