The Indian health ministry, on Friday, announced a precautionary COVID vaccine dose for those aged 18 and above. This new drive will begin on Sunday, and ahead of it, here are some frequently asked questions. 

When to get the precautionary shot? 

As per the ministry’s directives, adults are only eligible for the precautionary dose and need to have completed nine months to be able to take this shot. 

How to know when one is eligible for a third dose?

Based on the details of previous vaccinations, as recorded on CoWin, the health ministry will send SMS to those eligible for the precautionary dose. 

Is the precautionary dose free? 

No, the precautionary vaccine shot is not available for free now and has to be taken at private centres. Once prices are announced, they will reflect on the CoWin app, but the central government has directed that these vaccination centres cannot charge more than Rs 150 as a service charge on top of the existing vaccine cost. 

Can anyone get precautionary doses for free? 

The government has identified some priority groups, including healthcare and frontline workers, and people above 60, who can get the third dose for free from government vaccine centres. 

How to know when the third dose is available?

It is mandatory for private vaccination centres to provide details about the stock availability on the CoWin platform, as per the central government. As mentioned, the price per dose also has to be declared. 

Are walk-ins allowed to take the third dose? 

Both online and offline appointments are accepted for the precautionary dose. The health ministry guideline says “Eligible citizens can avail walk-in vaccination, wherein PCVCs can add beneficiaries onsite to an ongoing vaccination session for precaution dose”. 

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Which vaccine is being given as a precautionary dose?

India is sticking to a homologous model for its third jab. Thus the new dose will be of the same vaccine type taken for the first two. If someone has taken Covishield throughout, that is what they’ll get, and those who’ve chosen Covaxin will have a third dose of the same administered. 

Will the third vaccine come with a certificate? 

Those receiving the precautionary dose will get a confirmation SMS which the vaccination centre can check before issuing the certificate.  

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The certificate can also be downloaded using CoWin, DigiLocker, or Arogya Setu. 

Thus far, India has already administered a third dose to 45.15 lakh health care workers, 69.77 lakh frontline workers, and 1.25 crore people above the age of 60. The drive for adults to take the precautionary dose begins at a time when the nation has reportedly logged its case of the new XE omicron variant, which is believed to be more transmissible than previously detected COVID variants.