Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Sunday urged authorities in Jammu and Kashmir to expand the vaccination roll out and include young people. "Everyone above 18 years of age should be vaccinated against coronavirus," DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan said in a statement.
While people over the age 45 are being vaccinated, Dr Nisar said it was time to relax the age limit as Covid-19 spread "is on the rise among young people".
"Kashmir is reeling under the grip of a second wave of Covid-19, with cases escalating at an unprecedented rate," the DAK President said adding more young people are getting infected in this new wave.
"This is because they are the ones who go out for work, socialize, and travel, which increases their chances of contracting the virus," he said.
Dr Nisar further said a section of young population does not follow Covid appropriate behavior which facilitates the spread of the virus in the community.
"Though severe cases mostly constitute elderly, young people are getting admitted in hospitals with severe bilateral pneumonia needing intensive care and some even ventilators," Dr Nisar said.
"Not only will vaccine protect young people against Covid-19, but will also help achieve herd immunity which is when large enough proportion of the population is immune to the virus so that the virus no longer spreads easily from person to perso," he added.
He said the goal is "unlikely to be achieved if young people, who constitute a huge portion of the population, are not vaccinated".
"And, if we leave a large number of the population unimmunized, we will not be able to break the chain of infection and the current wave will linger on."
The DAK president warned that the infected young people can take the virus home and give it to elder members in the family who are at high risk of complications, hospitalization and death.
"Vaccinating young will protect old people and other vulnerable groups that will help reduce the number of deaths in the community," he said.
Dr Nisar said given the pace of spread, "it seems there is a mutant in circulation which is more infectious than the previous one".
"Opening up vaccination to young people quickly and thoroughly can prevent the mutant from gaining foothold," added the DAK president.