A young woman receives her first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in New Delhi. (Express Photo: Amit Mehra)
A government panel has recommended increasing the gap between two doses of Covishield Covid-19 vaccine to 12-16 weeks and said that pregnant women may be offered the choice to take any vaccine, official sources said on Thursday.
No change has been suggested for the dosage interval of Covaxin by the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) which held its meeting recently.
The NTAGI has also stated that those having laboratory test proven SARS-CoV-2 illness should defer Covid-19 vaccination for six months after recovery, the sources said.
According to the Union Health Ministry’s current protocol, vaccine is to be taken four to eight weeks after recovery from Covid-19 infection and pregnant and lactating women are not to be administered the shots.
“Based on the available real life evidence particularly from the UK, the Covid-19 working group agreed for increasing the dosing interval to 12-16 weeks between two doses of Covishield vaccine.No change in interval of Covaxin vaccine doses was recommended,” the sources said.
Currently, the recommended interval between two doses of Covishield is four to eight weeks. The recommendations come amid several states reporting shortage of vaccines.
Several states and UTs including Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana have decided to opt for global tenders for procurement of anti-coronavirus shots with the domestic supply falling short to meet the rising demand.
The recommendations of the NTAGI will be sent to the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC).
The panel also rejected the proposal for routinely screening all vaccine recipients with rapid antigen testing prior to Covid vaccination.
The NTAGI recommended that all pregnant women visiting for ante natal check-up may be informed about risks and benefits associated with Covishield and Covaxin. Based on the information provided, a pregnant woman may be offered the choice to take any of the Covid-19 vaccine.
An educational tool comprising information on risk of Covid-19 infection during pregnancy, benefits associated with the vaccination and rare complications associated with vaccines like thrombosis and thrombocytopenia (with Covishield) may be developed.
Also, all lactating women are eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccines any time after delivery, the panel suggested.
According to the current vaccination protocol, pregnant and lactating women should not be administered the shots as they have not been part of any anti-coronavirus vaccine clinical trial so far.
In case of individuals who have received the first dose and before completion of the dosing schedule if they test positive for Covid-19, they should wait for 4-8 weeks after clinical recovery from the illness.
Also, Covid-19 patients who have been given anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma may defer Covid-19 vaccination for three months from the day of discharge from hospital, the recommendations stated.
Individuals having any other serious illness requiring hospitalisation or ICU care should also wait for 4-8 weeks before getting the next Covid vaccine, it added.