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Covid-19: HC Asks Centre To File Status Report On Vaccination For Kids Below 12 Years


The Delhi High Court Monday asked the Centre to file a status report regarding COVID-19 vaccination for children below the age of 12 years. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla said the status report be filed within 3 weeks and listed the matter for further hearing on May 12.

The court was hearing a PIL on behalf of a minor, a 12-year-old girl, and another seeking directions for the immediate vaccination of those in the 12-17 age group on the grounds that there were fears that the third wave of COVID-19 could affect them more.

An application was also filed on behalf of the petitioners urging the court to direct the central government to give a road map for vaccinating children 12 years and below for COVID-19.

The court noted that the grievance of the petitioners stands partially addressed as recently the centre has started to roll out vaccines for kids above 12 years.

Central government standing counsel Anurag Ahluwalia submitted that he will file the status report regarding vaccination for children below 12 years of age.

During the hearing, the court observed that a call has to be taken by the experts whether a particular vaccine is safe or not.

It said so far as the Indian situation is concerned, it is the Niti Ayog that is taking decisions regarding the vaccination.

Senior advocate Kailash Vasudev, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that more than 50 per cent of children are not able to go to schools as they are yet to be vaccinated which is a serious issue.

He said be it, kids of age group, 12 to 15 or 15 to 18, all are entitled to go to school and the government must come out with a policy on this at the earliest.

The petitioners had earlier submitted that no road map has been given by the government for vaccinating children in the age of 12 years and below.

The high court had earlier said it would be a "disaster" if COVID-19 vaccines are administered, especially to children, without clinical trials and had asked the Centre to quickly vaccinate kids below 18 years of age once the trials are over as the whole nation is waiting for it.

The court was earlier informed by the Centre that clinical trials for the vaccines for children under 18 years of age are going on and on the verge of completion and that a policy will be formed by the government and children will be vaccinated when experts give permission.

The Centre, in the affidavit, had said vaccination was the topmost priority of the government and all efforts were being made to achieve an objective of 100 per cent vaccination in the shortest time possible keeping the available resources in mind and availability of vaccine doses into consideration.

It had said from May 1, 2021, onwards under the new liberalised pricing and accelerated national COVID vaccination strategy, all citizens above the age of 18 years including parents of children who were residing in Delhi were already eligible for the vaccination.

The Centre had said that on May 12, last year, the Drug Controller General of India has permitted Bharat Biotech to conduct clinical trials on healthy volunteers between 2 to 18 years of age for its vaccine-Covaxin.

The petitioner's counsel had said vaccines were being administered to children of the age group of 8 to 18 years in various countries and the court may ask the authorities to conclude the process in a time-bound manner.

There are two petitioners in the matter -- the first is a minor represented through her mother and the second is a mother of a minor child.

The petition has claimed that according to the data of the number of persons infected from April to May 2021, the number of reported cases where children were infected "has risen tremendously" than in 2020.

It has been alleged that the vaccine policy of India has failed to factor in children or parents of children for vaccination and the Centre and Delhi government have also failed to prepare a national plan for taking of the minors during the present pandemic.

"That globally, countries have fully recognised the importance of vaccinating children, alongside adults, to curb, mitigate the ill effects of the present pandemic and have accordingly and effectively taken measures.

"Vaccines for children are being produced and administered in countries such as Canada, United States of America (USA), for children between the ages of 12-17 years," it has said.

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