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The Union Health Department on Wednesday reduced the duration between the second dose and the third precautionary dose of the Covid-19 vaccine from nine months to six months.

On Wednesday, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to states that a decision had been made to administer the third precautionary dose to the adult population after six months or 26 weeks from the date of administration of the second dose. Currently, the precautionary dose is available free of charge at government vaccination centers for priority groups – frontline workers, healthcare workers and people over the age of 60. For 18-59 year olds, the precautionary dose is only available at private vaccination centres.

Bhushan told states that the revised precautionary guidelines were based on the recommendation of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI), India’s top advisory body that provides advice to the government on immunization by undertaking technical reviews of scientific evidence on issues related to immunization policy and programs.

“In view of the evolution of scientific evidence and global practice, the “Standing Technical Sub-Committee” (STSC) of the “National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization” (NTAGI) has recommended revising the duration between the 2nd dose and the precautionary dose from 9 months or 39 weeks to 6 months or 26 weeks. This has also been approved by NTAGI,” Bhushan told the States.

According to official data, India administered 4.75 crores of precautionary doses. In priority groups, 57.75 lakh health workers, 1.05 crore frontline workers and 2.50 crore seniors over 60 have received their precautionary dose.

On January 10, India deployed the third precautionary dose healthcare workers, frontline workers and citizens over 60 with co-morbidities. At that time, the Ministry of Health issued guidelines that the precautionary dose would be based on the completion of 9 months, i.e. 39 weeks from the date of administration of the second dose.

On April 10, announced the deployment of the third precautionary dose of the Covid-19 vaccine for the population over 18 years of age. Data shows that 33.99 lakh beneficiaries in the age group 18-44 and 27.76 lakh beneficiaries in the age group 45-59 received their precautionary age group at the private vaccination centers .

On May 12, the Union Health Ministry relaxed vaccination standards for the third precautionary dose allowing citizens and students traveling abroad to take the third booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in accordance with the destination country travel guidelines.