The Centre has told the Delhi High Court that the Zydus vaccine may soon be available for children
Amid the Centre’s decision to start vaccination of children from 12 years onwards in August, the Punjab government on Saturday (July 31) announced the reopening of schools for all classes in the state from August 2. The classes will be held in accordance with COVID protocol, media reports said.
On Friday (July 30), Punjab reported 49 new COVID cases, taking the total count to 599,053, officials said. No pandemic-related death was reported on July 30. The state has 544 active cases and most new infections are reported from Jalandhar, Ferozepur and Ludhiana.
The Punjab government on June 30 had extended the ban on opening of educational and coaching institutions, cinema halls, gymnasiums and mass gatherings till July 31.
Under Unlock 2.0, the state government had banned any activity that can attract large gatherings even outside the containment zones. Restrictions on number of guests in marriages not exceeding 50 and the number of persons attending funerals not exceeding 20 remain enforced.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had declared on July 27 that vaccination for children will start next month. Trials of Zydus Cadila’s DNA vaccines for the 12-18 age group have recently concluded. The Centre has told the Delhi High Court that the Zydus vaccine may soon be made available.
Bharat Biotech (makers of Covaxin) has already been allowed to conduct trials for the 2-18 age group. The Indian vaccine manufacturer’s success with this age group is important because Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine, recommended in the West for children aged 12 to 15 years, may not be reaching the Indian shores soon. The Health Ministry is also apprehensive about how consistent Pfizer would be with its supplies because India has a population of 104 million children in the 12-18 age bracket.
Doctors have been divided about the need for reopening schools in the absence of vaccines for kids. However, all agree on the need for inoculation.
Meanwhile, according to a survey conducted by online platform Local Circles, around 48 per cent parents are not willing to send their children to schools till they are vaccinated against the infection.
The survey conducted with over 32,000 parents across 361 districts in the country found that 30 per cent parents are willing to send their wards to schools if COVID cases in their districts come down to zero.
“Vaccinating children in the coming months is going to be the key if children are to go to schools for physical classes. Forty-eight per cent of the surveyed parents said they are not willing to send their children to schools till they are vaccinated,” said the survey.
“At least 21 per cent of parents said whenever the schools reopen, they are ready to send their wards there,” added the survey.
Nearly 47 per cent of the respondents of the survey were from tier 1 districts, 27 per cent from tier 2 and 26 per cent respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.