MoH to roll out booster dose for children aged 12-17 today

There are around 28,000 children across the country who will be completing their examinations today

With the completion of the board examinations for Class X and XII today, the Ministry of Health (MoH) will be rolling out booster dose across the country for children aged 12-17 years old.

Children who have turned 12 would also be getting the dose. 

Health Minister Dechen Wangmo, during the Question-Answer session with the people through Facebook yesterday, divulged that these children will be receiving the booster dose after the board exams.

There are around 28,000 children across the country who will be completing their examinations today.

“It became a key national priority to secure adequate doses of pediatric COVID-19 vaccines to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our young children,” the Minister said.

“With the Delta wave, we were able to come out of that crisis fairly well because we were able to vaccinate both with the first and second dose during the lockdown. Before the surging of cases, we vaccinated both with the first and second dose.”

“Today, we are dealing with the fourth outbreak and we have managed to give booster doses to at least 86% of our population. So, I think these are giving us a lot of confidence and protection,” Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo said.

It is because of this reason, according to the minister, that the health ministry is not seeing mortality and hospitalization cases as seen in the rest of the world. The vaccine has been truly a blessing in terms of keeping hospitalization severity low and ICU cases down.

However, the Health Minister informed people that after the board examinations are over, certain relaxations and announcements will come from the Prime Minister’s Office in consultation with the National Covid-19 Task Force.

“We are planning a second booster for the vulnerable population, which would be the fourth dose. It is already in the pipeline and we will be rolling out soon,” Lyonpo said, adding that the ministry is also keeping a very close eye on some of the benefits of the booster, advantages, and its efficacy for the population.

With the initial variants of COVID-19, the available evidence suggested that the impact of the COVID-19 on children was not very severe. However, with the emergence of the Omicron variant, the minister said there is mounting evidence that the disease is causing severe illness amongst young children compared to earlier variants of the COVID-19.

“With the emergency authorization of the use of COVID-19 vaccines in children, efforts were intensified to secure the right number of doses to inoculate all our children between the ages of 5-11 years old,” Lyonpo said.

In addition, Lyonpo informed the public that this is a significant milestone as the children from ages 5 to 11 will finally be protected from the disease that they have been fighting against for over two years.

“As of today, around 95% of the children across the country have been vaccinated,” Lyonpo said.

“We are talking about 83,227 children in this age group and I urge everyone to come forward,” the minister said, adding that the vaccine coverage of the children will add confidence to the ongoing COVID-19 management.

Meanwhile, around 65,718 children between the ages of 5-11 years old have registered for the vaccines so far.

Kinley Yonten from Thimphu