India begins vaccinating teens as Omicron fears rise

India begins vaccinating teens as Omicron fears rise

India begins vaccinating teens as Omicron fears rise

India is vaccinating teens aged 15-18 from Monday after restrictions in big cities to avoid a repeat of last year’s Covid outbreak. 

A spring Covid wave across India saw more than 200,000 people die, hospitals overwhelmed and a lack of oxygen. 

More than 1.4 billion vaccine doses have been administered across the country but less than half of India’s population is fully vaccinated, according to government data. 

On Monday, teenagers queued up with their parents outside a makeshift medical centre in New Delhi. 

“It’s really great to have your first vaccine,” said 16-year-old Soumadeep, after receiving his first dose of the Indian-made Covaxin.

“It’s like a new year gift for the children.”

There are serious fears over the arrival of the Omicron variant and a sudden rise in daily infections and in some of the country’s biggest urban centres they’ve started imposing fresh restrictions from last week. 

New Delhi and Bangalore are under overnight curfews from 10 pm with bars and restaurants only allowed to operate at half capacity. 

Mumbai has banned public gatherings of more than 4 people from 9pm to 6am and restricted weddings to 50 guests.

The surge of last year’s Delta variant was blamed on the Kumbh Mela religious festival and the large state election rallies. 

India has the world’s second-highest number of cases, with almost 35 million confirmed infections. 

Its 481,000 known Covid deaths are the third-highest, behind the US and Brazil.

India is well known for under-reporting its cases and studies suggest the true toll could be up to 10 times higher.

India will begin rolling out booster vaccines for people aged over 60 from next Monday. 

Despite records being broken around the world, the Omicron outbreak has seen less deaths and hospitalisations – fuelling hope the variant is less severe than other strains. 

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