In a recently released order, the health ministry has asked states to delay vaccine doses, including booster shots, by three months for people who got the coronavirus infection.

In a letter to the states additional health secretary Vikas Sheel said, “Please note that: in case of individuals having lab test proven Sars-2 Covid-19 illness, all Covid vaccination including precaution dose to be deferred by three months after recovery”.

“I request you to kindly direct the concerned officials to take note and also ensure effective dissemination of the information to service providers as well as the general public through all forms of media,” the letter further added.

The government started Covid-19 vaccination for children aged 15 to 18 years from January 3. The administration of the precaution dose for health and front-line workers and people aged 60 years and above with comorbidities was started on January 10. As per the health ministry guidelines, the decision to administer booster doses is based on the completion of nine months (39 weeks) from the date of administration of the second dose.

Scientific research has brought forth varied opinions about the administration of booster doses. While some countries consider six months as the ideal gap to administer booster shots, others claim that vaccination can be given soon after a person recovers from Covid-19. The first proposition is based on the idea that antibodies generated by the vaccine begin decreasing in six months.

According to Sheel, the letter is aimed at directed several states and UTs about how to vaccinate those with an active illness, or those who have recently recovered.

In a briefing on Thursday, health secretary Rajesh Bhushan affirmed that the guidelines are clear — the vaccine must be administered three months after recovery.

He said, “Our guidelines clearly state that three months after recovering from Covid infection, an individual can take his or her second or precaution dose. This is based on current evidence, and will be changed if there is enough scientific evidence to suggest a change. Our expert panel, NTAGI, is closely looking into it, and regularly deliberating over it”. NTAGI is an abbreviation for National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation in India.


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