The experts said it has already been five-six months since many of the healthcare workers took their second shot and there are fears of the antibody levels waning.
Vaccine expert Dr Naveen Thacker, who was also part of the committee of experts constituted under the National Institute of Disaster Management, told TOI, “Considering the possibility of future waves and long Covid, booster shots for this segment should be given a priority once the supply is ensured.”
He said, “The government is saying that a person can stay protected against serious infection and death months after the second dose. But now research is showing that even those who have mild or asymptomatic Covid-19 can experience its long-haul symptoms.”
Leading virologist Dr T Jacob John told TOI, “Scientifically and immunologically, the healthcare workers should be given priority for the booster doses. A booster dose is ordinarily given six months after the first schedule of the two doses. At present, this is the right interval for the booster doses for many of them.”
He said, “Programmatically, the government will have to take a call on dividing the available doses in three portions for three priority groups: one for healthcare workers’ booster doses, second portion exclusively for people whose second doses are due and the third portion for citizens who have not yet taken the first dose of the vaccine. The government should formulate a policy, which may include priority booster doses for healthcare workers aged above 55.”
Dr J A Jayalal, national president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “Scientifically, a policy on booster doses for healthcare workers is required, with the fears of a third wave imminent. We have, however, left it to the government to take a suitable call as per the availability of vaccines because a bulk of the population is yet to be inoculated.”
Virologist Dr Shahid Jameel, however, said there was no need for booster shots at this time. “It’s more important to give at least one dose to the maximum number of people and finish up with the two doses,” he said.