New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has issued fresh SOPs for vaccination of persons undertaking international travel for educational purposes or employment opportunities or as part of India’s contingent for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The Union Health Ministry has written to the states and Union Territories to facilitate vaccination of such persons and advised to widely publicize and take all necessary measures to immediately implement these SOPs.
Briefing about the SOPs, the Health Ministry said at present, based on the recommendations by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC), the schedule of Covishield vaccine under the National Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy is to administer the second dose at 12-16 weeks interval (i.e. after 84 days) after administration of the first dose.
“With the receipt of several representations for allowing administration of dose of Covishield for such persons who have only taken first dose of Covishield and are seeking to undertake international travel for educational purposes or employment opportunities or for participation in India’s Contingent for Tokyo Olympic games, but whose planned travel dates fall prior to completion of the currently mandated minimum interval of 84 days from the date of first dose, the issue was discussed in Empowered Group 5 (EG-5) and appropriate recommendations have been received in this context,” the ministry added.
With a view to providing full coverage of vaccination and facilitating international travel for such genuine reasons, the Health Ministry said the following procedure shall be followed for administration of the second dose of Covishield vaccine for such beneficiaries.
The Health Ministry added this special dispensation will be available to the students who have to undertake foreign travel for the purposes of education, the persons who have to take up jobs in foreign countries, athletes, sportspersons and accompanying staff of the Indian contingent attending the International Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo.
The governments of the states and Union Territories have been asked to designate a competent authority in each district for according permission for such administration of the second dose of Covishield.
Prior to according permission for administration of the second dose before the period of 84 days after date of first dose, the competent authority shall check whether a period of 28 days has elapsed after the date of first dose besides genuineness of the purpose of travel based on documents related to admission offers or associated formal communications for education, whether a person is already studying a foreign educational institution and has to return to that institution for continuing their education, interview calls for a job or offer letters for taking up employment and nomination to participate in the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The Health Ministry said it is advised that vaccination may be availed in cases through passport, which is one of the permissible ID documents as per the current guidelines so that the passport number is printed in the certificate.
“If passport was not used at the time of administration of first dose, the details of the photo ID Card used for vaccination will printed in the vaccination certificate and mention of the passport in the vaccination certificate is not to be insisted upon. Wherever necessary, the competent authority may issue another certificate linking the vaccination certificate with the passport number of the beneficiary,” the Health Ministry said.
“This facility shall be available to those who need to undertake international travel for these specified purposes in the period up to 31st August, 2021. All technical protocols as prescribed in the Guidelines of the Ministry regarding COVID Vaccination Centres and AEFI management etc. shall have be followed,” the ministry added.
The Health Ministry said it is clarified that Covishield, produced by the Serum Institute of India and approved by the DCGI, is one of the vaccines by the WHO for use as on June 3, 2021.
The Health Ministry further said the mention of vaccine-type as “Covishield” is sufficient and no other qualifying entries are required in the vaccination certificates, adding the CoWIN system will soon provide the facility for the administration of the second dose in such exceptional cases.