GUWAHATI: Assam is eyeing completion of the COVID vaccination drive among teens by the end of February, keeping in mind the Board exams which are scheduled mid-March.

State health sources informed EastMojo on Wednesday that a total of 8,81,772 beneficiaries in the age group of 15-17 years have been administered the first dose of Covaxin.

“We have also initiated the second dose vaccine administration among the eligible teenage beneficiaries and have managed to vaccinate close to 9,000 beneficiaries in the past two days,” state nodal officer, COVID-19 vaccination, Munindra Nath Ngatey informed.

The health official, however, said that the cold weather and surge in COVID cases post the emergence of the Omicron variant in the first half of January had slowed down the process marginally.

“However, we are planning to complete the vaccination process among this specific age group by February,” Ngatey said.

Covaxin has an interval of 28 days between the two doses to complete the primary vaccination schedule.

Hence, all adolescents in the age group who received the first dose on January 3, 2022, have become eligible for the second dose from January 31, 2022.

The state Board exams, too, are scheduled in mid-March and the health department now aims to complete the process before that date to enable students to appear in the exams without any fear or uncertainty.

The Assam government had earlier set a target of vaccinating 20 lakh teenagers with both doses before the first half of March so that they could appear for the offline board and other exams.

Last year, the Board exams had to be cancelled, after getting postponed a couple of times, owing to a surge in COVID cases, affecting many students who had prepared hard for the exams.

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had on Sunday said that all schools could be reopened from mid-February and that the vaccination drive among teens would pick up pace as it is convenient to accelerate the process if educational institutes are open.

Meanwhile, the secretary to the Union health and family welfare ministry, Rajesh Bhushan, has directed secretaries, principal secretaries and additional chief secretaries of the health departments all states and Union Territories, directing the officials to accelerate the second dose coverage amongst due beneficiaries aged 15-18 years, while ensuring that the remaining beneficiaries for first dose also get the jabs on time.

“It is important that the coverage of second dose amongst adolescents is reviewed daily at your level at state/UTs and similar review is undertaken at district level as well,” Bhushan wrote to the officials.

“A tailored communication strategy, focused on the adolescent population and their caregivers, should also be rolled out to make them aware about the timely completion of vaccination schedules and sustain their vaccine confidence,” he stated in the letter.

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