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Apollo Announces Free Covid Vaccination For Children With “Specified Comorbidities”

New Delhi:

A leading private healthcare group on Monday said it will provide COVID-19 jabs for free to children with “specified co-morbidities”, even as the Centre is yet to announce its approval to it.

Apollo Hospitals, in a statement, said, however, it is an “indicative list” and the “final list of co-morbidities eligible for free vaccination would be as per the list published by the government”.

Zydus Cadila’s Covid vaccine ZyCoV-D has already received Emergency Use Authorisation from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) in the country and will be administered to those aged 12 years and above. It is yet to be introduced in the nationwide Covid vaccination programme.

As for the emergency use approval for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin in the 2-18 years age group by the DCGI, it is under expert evaluation, official sources had earlier said.

On October 12, the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) on COVID-19 of the central drug authority had recommended granting Emergency Use Authorisation to Covaxin for children and adolescents in the 2-18 years age group with certain conditions.

Apollo Hospitals sources on Monday claimed that the list of co-morbidities announced by the group on Monday was prepared “after consulting with the government”.

“It is anticipated that approval will soon be granted for vaccinating children with specified co-morbidities and immediately post-approval, and details of the age-group permitted for vaccination, the free vaccination initiative would be launched by Apollo Hospitals across its units,” the statement said.

“The list is expected to include children with haematological, neurological, cardiac, liver, gastrointestinal, rheumatic, cancer, respiratory, genitourinary and developmental disorders,” it said.

Dr Prathap C Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group, said, “Adults have been the focus of vaccination till now as by and large, children have been spared from severe Covid infection. However, this is not the case in children with co-morbidities. These children continue to be at high risk of developing a severe infection. In addition, children with comorbidities have also seen a significant psychosocial impact as the lockdown resulted in their missing out on the personalised attention and specialised treatment and care that they require.”

The government’s approval of vaccination for children with co-morbidities, when it comes through, will be a “welcome step in the right direction”, he was quoted as saying in the statement.

“Realising the criticality of this vaccination, we will be extending the Covid vaccines completely free of cost to children with co-morbidities and giving them the necessary ”kavach” (shield) against Covid,” Reddy said.

Both vaccines would be available at Apollo Hospitals” vaccination centres across the country once all approvals by the government are in place and the vaccines are made available, the statement said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)