Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in a national TV address, has reportedly announced that starting January 10th 2022, the government will start giving out COVID-19 booster shots to healthcare workers and other frontline workers as a precautionary measure amidst growing cases of Omicron variants in the country.
Modi also added that the booster doses would also be made available for those above the age of 60 with comorbidities, following a recommendation from doctors.
Along with the booster shots, the COVID-19 vaccination drive for those aged between 15 and 18 will also begin from January 3rd 2022.
The Prime Minister stated that 1.8 million isolation beds, 500,000 oxygen-supported beds, and 400,000 oxygen tanks, along with other hospital-related resources, have been made available in the country amid growing fear that another Omicron-triggered pandemic wave may happen.
India had reported a sudden rise in Omicron cases, reaching 415 in total across 17 states.
Modi has warned in his address that the pandemic is not over and reminded people to take necessary precautions such as wearing face masks, washing hands, and following the COVID-19 protocols.
The Modi government had been successful in administering at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine to 88% percent of the population, out of the eligible 944 million, with 61% having taken both doses.
While millions of citizens are waiting for the second dose, authorities will begin giving booster shots to the healthcare and frontline workers who had suffered a great deal during the second wave of the pandemic, responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in the country.
Experts in the medical field believe that India needs to double down on its vaccination campaign and expand the coverage to prevent another surge of new infections, with a focus on those localities having fewer healthcare facilities.
The federal government has also urged states to curb overcrowding during the holiday season up until the new year, with a handful states even partially banning public celebrations.
India had reported 7,189 cases of new infections in the past 24 hours, taking the overall number to 34.78 million, and has become the country with the second-highest tally after the United States.