The Kerala Health Department added students travelling abroad for jobs and studies to the list of priority vaccine recipients on Friday, 28 May. It now allows people under this category to get their second dose of the Covishield vaccine after four to six weeks following the first dose, against the existing twelve-to-sixteen-week interval recommended by the Centre.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) also issued a circular on the same evening, announcing priority vaccination for foreign-bound students on select dates (31 May, 1 June, and 2 June) and at specified centres.
Kerala Health Minister Veena George spoke about Keralites voicing issues faced by passengers travelling abroad for jobs or education, which were conveyed to the Centre.
The state requested permission for concession regarding the gap between doses and decided to go ahead with the reduced interval for administering the second dose of Covishield as the Centre did not issue any directions.
Several countries have made coronavirus vaccination certificates mandatory for international travel clearance, which must indicate passport numbers on them.
George said that individuals falling under the newly prioritised category would receive Covishield as it had been cleared by the WHO, and would receive certificates clearly mentioning their passport numbers for the same.
WHY HAS THIS CATEGORY BEEN PRIORITISED?
George spoke to The Indian Express where she said, “Many are at the risk of losing their jobs if they don’t report to work within the stipulated time frame. Further, most countries have not included Covaxin in the approved COVID vaccine list. Hence those who have taken Covaxin are facing hindrance in travel clearance.”
The BMC’s notice, too, announced that foreign-bound students between the ages of 18-44 would be given priority vaccinations for COVID-19. It set aside three days in a week, from Monday to Wednesday, for these students when they can visit three specified centres and receive their vaccinations without prior registration.
Shiv Sena MLA Aaditya Thackeray tweeted that students who were able to furnish proof of admission at a foreign university or a foreign visa would get preference at vaccination centres, where they would be allowed to get free walk-in vaccinations. Students would be required to carry personal identification documents along with admission confirmations to avail the facility.
Mumbai’s municipal corporation added said individuals to a list of priority vaccine recipients, which includes specially abled citizens and lactating mothers.
It also announced that those above 45 who were seeking their second dose of Covaxin or either dose of Covishield could also walk in without an appointment between Monday and Wednesday every week.