WHO recommends Covid boosters for old and vulnerable groups.
WHO recommends Covid boosters for old and vulnerable groups.

NEW DELHI: The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged booster immunisation for the elderly and other vulnerable groups following a recent increase in Covid-19 cases in a number of nations.

This week's updated advice was provided following a meeting of the WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE).

In order to account for the effects of Omicron and the strong population-level immunity brought on by infection and vaccination, it changed the roadmap for prioritising the use of Covid vaccinations.

The updated roadmap "re-emphasizes the importance of vaccination of those still at-risk of severe disease, mostly older adults and those with underlying conditions, including with additional boosters," said SAGE Chair Dr. Hanna Nohynek in a statement. "Updated to reflect that much of the population is either vaccinated or previously infected with Covid, or both."

The updated roadmap lists three Covid vaccine priority-use groups: high, medium, and low.

These priority groups take into account vaccination performance, cost-effectiveness, programmatic variables, and community acceptance. They are primarily based on risk of serious illness and death.

People with immunocompromising conditions, such as those living with HIV and transplant recipients, older adults, younger adults with significant comorbidities (such as diabetes and heart disease), children aged six months and older, pregnant women, and frontline healthcare workers are included in the high priority group.

SAGE advises an additional booster for the high priority group six or twelve months after the final dosage, depending on factors including age and immunocompromising diseases.

The WHO also made the important statement that all Covid vaccination recommendations are temporary and should only be used for the current epidemiological situation.

According to the international health organisation, the recommendations for "the additional booster" "should not be viewed as requiring continuous annual Covid vaccine boosters."

"Countries should take into account their unique environment when determining whether to continue immunising low risk individuals, such healthy children and adolescents, without jeopardising the routine immunisations that are so important for the health and wellbeing of this age group," Nohynek added.

As per data from the Union health ministry, 2,994 new Covid infections were reported in India on Saturday, bringing the total number of active cases to 16,354.

With nine deaths, the death toll rose to 5,30,876; two deaths each came from Delhi, Karnataka, and Punjab; one death came from Gujarat; and two deaths were resolved by Kerala.

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