Vaccinating children should not be decided on the basis of panic in WhatsApp groups, said the Narendra Modi government in an official statement. The statement came after repeated demands for vaccinating students. The demands for vaccinating the younger population picked up after there were discussions on holding physical exams for class 12 boards.
Several ministers have been raising demands for vaccinating children before they are made to appear for the class 12 board exams.
While there is no existing vaccination drive for the population below the age of 18 in India, the government said that it is working on it, however, the process will not be fastened by politicians weighing in. “There have been studies about the safety of vaccines in children, which have been encouraging. Trials in children in India are also going to begin soon. However, vaccinating children should not be decided on the basis of panic in Whatsapp groups and because some politicians want to play politics. It has to be a decision taken by our scientists after adequate data is available based on trials," the official statement read.
Delhi deputy chief minister and education minister Manish Sisodia said earlier, “The central government should talk to Pfizer and bring vaccines for the 14 million children studying in class 12 and set to appear for exams." He also demanded that teachers too should be vaccinated on priority. Sisodia suggested that Indian-origin vaccines should also be considered for class 12 students considering most of them are 17.5 years old and only a few months short of 18.
Former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Akhilesh Yadav has demanded that exams should not be held without vaccinating students. He tweeted, “No Examination Without Vaccination." State ministers from Kerala and Punjab had also raised similar demands.
Not just for board aspirants but there is a demand for vaccination for pre-teens and children considering they have been restricted to their homes for over a year now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pediatricians claim that they have seen rising cases of anxiety among kids. Vaccinating the younger population will also mean allowing them to play with peer groups and even reopening schools under strict precautions.
Several countries including the United States, Canada, and Singapore have approved vaccinations for children, India is yet to roll out such a policy for its population below 18 years.