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COVID-19 booster dose in India: Eligibility & registration

Team AckoApr 12, 2022

In 2020 we were all directly or indirectly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, virologists quickly developed a few vaccines that could keep the virus at bay. Even so, last year, a more infectious strain called “Omicron” emerged.

In response to this new strain of virus, the Government of India rolled out a COVID-19 booster dose to strengthen people’s immunity. Read on to know more about the eligibility, registration and other information about the COVID-19 booster in India.

COVID-19 Booster Dose in India

Omicron variant in India

Omicron was first discovered in South Africa at the end of the year 2021. The first case identified in India was in the state of Karnataka, during the same year. Because of this new variant, in January 2022, there was a surge in COVID-19 cases in India. Fortunately, the case counts stabilised within a few months.

What is a vaccine?

Our native immunity usually protects us against several diseases. Yet, certain disease-causing organisms manage to survive despite this natural protection. Vaccines help boost our immunity to protect us against these infectious agents. According to WHO, vaccines are currently responsible for preventing over 20 life-threatening diseases.

What is a COVID-19 booster?

The role of a COVID-19 booster is similar to that of a vaccine. It also reinforces the protection stimulated by the previously administered vaccine doses. Antibodies are created when the COVID-19 vaccines are introduced into the body. However, after a period of time, the antibody count tends to reduce drastically. Thus, to increase the count and strengthen the immune response, a booster vaccine is administered.

Eligibility for COVID-19 booster dose

The Indian Government is currently offering the COVID-19 booster dose only to priority populations. However, this is subject to change. The booster was first rolled out in India on 10 January 2022. It is currently available only for frontline medical workers and senior citizens above the age of 60 years, suffering from comorbidities. Nonetheless, it is not necessary for senior citizens to produce a certificate while receiving their booster dose. Children between the ages of 15 to 18 are also eligible to receive the COVID-19 booster dose.

Guidelines for COVID-19 booster dose

Below are guidelines, based on Government instructions, that need to be followed for a COVID-19 booster shot.

  • The recipient of a booster dose should have received two doses of vaccination prior to receiving the booster shot.

  • There should be a 9-month or 39-week gap between the second/final dose of vaccination and receiving the booster dose.

  • You can only receive a booster for the vaccines you received initially. For example, if you previously received Covaxin vaccines, then you can get only a Covaxin booster dose.

  • Pre-registration is not required. You can walk in, book an appointment and receive the booster dose.

  • Carry a valid identification document like a Passport, Aadhaar Card or Driving Licence for registration purposes.

  • Even after receiving the booster dose, continue to follow all the Government mandated COVID-19 protocols.

Note: The above mentioned guidelines are subject to change.

Side effects of the booster dose

The side effects usually reported for a COVID-19 booster are similar to the ones reported for the COVID-19 vaccines. Side effects may include fever, headaches, body pain, etc. If side effects persist beyond a few days, it is advisable to seek medical attention.

How to register for the COVID-19 booster?

Although pre-registration is not required, registrations for the COVID-19 booster dose can be made on the CoWIN portal. The platform is programmed to display only the eligible recipients of the booster. Also, periodic reminders will be sent to the registered mobile number of those scheduled for the booster dose.

How much does a COVID-19 booster dose cost?

In order to make the COVID-19 booster dose available for all, the Government is currently offering them free of cost at Government vaccination centres. Alternatively, a COVID-19 booster can be bought at private hospital vaccination centres as well. The exact cost for the booster dose slightly varies from private centre to private centre. You can check out the exact prices on the CoWIN portal.

In closing

COVID-19 vaccines are our saving grace from the COVID-19 virus and so it is crucial to receive them. If you have already received both doses of vaccination, you can consider getting the COVID-19 booster dose. However, make sure that you fulfil the eligibility criteria and follow the guidelines mentioned above.

Frequently asked questions

The following are frequently asked questions regarding the COVID-19 booster dose.

If vaccines are effective, why do I need an additional booster?

COVID-19 vaccines are extremely effective at preventing or lessening the impact of the COVID-19 virus. However, after a period of time, the antibodies that result from the vaccination, might reduce. Thus, a booster vaccine is administered to increase the antibody count and strengthen the body’s immune response.

Is mixing of vaccination brands allowed while getting a COVID-19 booster?

No, mixing of brands is not permitted while availing a booster dose. In fact, mixing vaccination brands is not permitted. You have to register for the same brand for the second dose of vaccination and for the subsequent booster shot as well.

How important is receiving a COVID-19 booster dose?

Countries around the world have been administering the booster dose to their citizens as a response to the infectious new COVID-19 strains. In India, the booster dose was first rolled out on 10 January 2022, when the Omicron COVID-19 variant was spreading rapidly in the country.

Unfortunately, the Omicron variant can infect people despite them receiving the vaccines and booster doses. It can also infect individuals who have previously been infected by the virus. However, the effect of infection is drastically reduced by receiving the immunity increasing vaccines and booster.

Is a precautionary dose and a booster dose the same thing?

Yes, they both refer to the same immunity-boosting substances. In India, the booster dose is also called a “precautionary dose”.

Should everyone receive the COVID-19 booster dose?

If you fulfil the previously mentioned eligability criteria, you should take the COVID-19 vaccine to strengthen your immune response. However, if you are in doubt because you suffer from a medical condition, consult your doctor and make a decision accordingly.

Where can I get a COVID-19 booster?

If you are eligible for receiving a COVID-19 booster shot, you can log in to the CoWIN portal and locate a vaccination centre that is accessible to you.

If I don’t receive the COVID-19 booster, am I still considered “fully vaccinated”?

Yes, as of now you are still considered “fully vaccinated” if you have received two doses of a vaccine and you can take part in activities that require that criteria.

Are there any threats in taking a COVD-19 booster shot?

There are no concerning threats so far. Usually, vaccines undergo various rounds of trials and are made safe for public use, before being distributed. So you need not be worried on the safety front. Nonetheless, you may experience certain side effects after getting a booster shot. Side effects may include a sore arm, fever, body pain, etc. However, these side effects are temporary.

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