On 3 January 2022, the COVID-19 vaccination campaign has started for children in the age group of 15 to 18 years in India. Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin is the approved vaccine for this.
Data from the Health Ministry’s CoWIN portal showed that as on 3 January 2022, 3.85 million doses of vaccines were administered to people aged 15 to 17 years.
While social media was flooded with pictures of children at vaccination centers and parents feeling relieved, concerns were also raised about the expiry date of the vaccine.
Was told in the tweet that the vaccine was expired
The matter first came to social media through a tweet. In which a Twitter user Navneeta Varadpande expressed her concerns in a tweet which read, “My son went to get his first vaccine, and we realized that the vaccine has already expired in November.
Then a letter was shown saying that the shelf life of the vaccine has been extended!! How, why, on what basis? You are experimenting on kids to clear the stock?”
Check out his tweet here –
After this tweet, there was an uproar on social media. Then it emerged that in November 2021, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) approved the extension of the shelf life of Covaxin from 9 to 12 months. But the thing to think about is whether taking expired vaccine can be dangerous?
So let’s first understand what is shelf life?
Vaccines are usually complex and expensive. They are less stable than chemicals and more sensitive to temperature changes. Like other medicines, vaccines also come with an ‘expiry date’. Which means how long it can be stored and used on patients.
In India, the pharmaceutical agency conducts several sustainability assessments to determine how long a particular pharmaceutical product can remain safe and effective. which is known as its shelf life.
Should parents be concerned about vaccine ‘expiry dates’?
Considering that CDSCO has already approved extension of shelf life of the vaccine, there is no cause for concern in this matter. In such times it has become imperative to get vaccinated and get yourself and your children vaccinated as soon as possible.
Can the shelf life of a vaccine be extended?
When vaccines are developed, manufacturers continue to conduct stability assessment studies. To determine how long the vaccines will be safe and effective to use.
With each passing month, scientists are given a longer period to evaluate vaccines in real time. Thereby allowing them to see if the shelf life of a vaccine can be extended.
In a statement, the Health Ministry said, “Some media reports have alleged that expired vaccines are being administered in India under its National COVID-19 Immunization Programme. It is based on false, misleading and incomplete information.”
Have the shelf lives of other vaccines been extended?
The Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) in response to Bharat Biotech International Limited’s letter dated 25 October 2021 had approved the extension of the shelf life of Covaxin (Whole Virion, Inactivated Coronavirus Vaccine) from nine months to 12 months, the ministry said. .
Similarly, the shelf life of Covishield has been extended from six months to nine months as on 22 February 2021 by the national regulator.
In addition to Covexin and Covishield, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in July 2021 extended the shelf life of Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine from four-and-a-half months to six months.
Also read: Vaccination in India for children is starting from today, know what you have to do