Nima Wangdi 

The health ministry has called on parents and guardians of children between 12 and 17 years to bring them for the booster dose.

Despite a weeklong coordinated mass vaccination campaign for children between 12-17 years, only 79.7 percent of the children have taken the shots. The vaccination campaign was organised starting March 12.

Health ministry on March 25 in a public notification stated that 93 percent of the children in this age group were vaccinated with the second dose as of March 23. However, only 79.7 percent has come for the boosters.

“Given the high protection offered by booster doses against the Omicron variant, as suggested by prevailing scientific evidence, it is crucial to have the booster doses at the earliest,” the notification stated.

Health ministry also stated that it was of utmost importance to get every eligible child vaccinated with boosters before the schools reopen in order to prevent widespread outbreaks of COVID-19 in our schools. “It ensures maximum protection from severe disease and hospitalization.”

Going by the records, there are around 75,000 children in this age group.

The booster vaccination campaign started by vaccinating some 26,800 students of classes X and XII after their board exams in their own containments. The second dose of the vaccine for the age group was administered on different dates depending on how risky the places they lived in were.

Health Minister Dechen Wangmo earlier said, even if the vaccine can’t fully protect people against the virus, it reduces the severity and hospitalisation.

Lyonpo also said that they were also discussing with the vaccine producing companies and have also signed an agreement for the vaccines for children who are five and below. “The moment we get clarity, evidence and approval from WHO and other competent authorities, we will roll out the vaccine.”

Meanwhile, the second dose for children between five and 11 years is expected to roll out in the first week of April. However, health ministry officials said they would announce the plan as and when it is ready.