Recent research on Omicron’s sensitivity to antibodies in comparison to the Delta variant was published in The Nature journal by an international team of academicians. The study stated that the Omicron variant is much more contagious than the Delta variant and its biological characteristics are yet to be completely deciphered, hence making it unpredictable. Another study by Harvard, MIT & MGH stated that the conventional regimens of COVID-19 vaccinations do not negate the fast-spreading Omicron variant. Further, people who took the booster dose after the regular ones experienced consequential neutralization against the Omicron variant than those with just two doses.
What is a booster dose & Why is it required?
A booster dose is a supplementary vaccine dose administered to individuals who have been vaccinated previously but their effect has derailed over time. Booster dose thus aims to “boost” or strengthen the immune response set by previous doses that have started to wane eventually. The booster dose, simply put, is designed to help individuals maintain their immunity in the long run. This is not a new phenomenon though. They are administered for many vaccines that children and adults have been given till date. For example, children get TT booster dose periodically as infants & toddlers; hepatitis B vaccine booster dose after 18yrs imparts long term protection in adults and more.
Booster dose in India
The Indian government scheduled to administer the booster inoculations from 10th January 2022. Here are the key points in the story of the COVID booster dose in India:
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on 25th December that “precaution dose (COVID booster dose)” will be administered to health workers, frontline workers, and immuno-compromised seniors as COVID numbers driven by Omicron are spike in the country.
- 10 lakh doses (approx.) were given on Day 1 (till 8 PM). Around 5.75 crore individuals are eligible for the third dose in this “Precaution Dose Drive” (2.75 crore seniors above 60yrs + 1 crore healtcare workers + 2 crore frontline workers).
- Seniors above 60 years with comorbidities or chronic health conditions including, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, kidney disease, cirrhosis, sickle cell disease, and more will have the option of taking the COVID booster dose on the advice of their physician.
- There is no decision yet on booster dose for all adults (18-60 yrs.).
- Eligible individuals for COVID booster dose in India will get them only after a gap of 9 months (39 weeks) post the second dose of vaccination.
- The booster dose will have to be the same vaccine people got for their 1st and 2nd dose. The Centre has categorically stated that there will be no “mix & match” for the booster dose.
- Officials on poll duty in election-bound states of Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand, and Goa have been selected as frontline workers and are also eligible to receive the COVID booster dose.
The COVID pandemic continues to drastically affect humankind. Human beings, irrespective of their age are at the risk of getting COVID infections. Having said that, seniors all over the world, due to the physiological changes that spring up with aging, are facing the worst challenges and threats this pandemic has brought about. As per leading physicians, the booster dose will be administered to those who are most susceptible to COVID infections. It has been tested thoroughly, and is safe and functional, hence getting the booster dose is the most effective way for seniors to safeguard themselves against the raging COVID menace.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1- What is the Definition of Booster Dose?
A booster dose is an additional dose of a vaccine required periodically to ‘boost’ the immune system to fight against a specific disease. For example, hepatitis B vaccine booster dose after 18yrs in adults imparts long-term protection against the disease.
2- Is a Booster Dose required?
The vaccines protection fades over time. Booster dose helps the immune system to “boost” or redevelop the original vaccine protection. Hence the booster dose is required as its aim is for individuals to sustain long-term immunity.
3- Who is Eligible for COVID Booster Dose?
Whosoever is at the risk of COVID infection after getting fully vaccinated is eligible for the booster dose. Currently, on a priority basis, it is being administered only to the health workers, frontline workers, and immuno-compromised seniors (above 60yrs of age).
4- What is the Price of Booster Dose?
The COVID booster dose is being administered free of cost in government hospitals and facilities.