Government of India has been supporting the efforts of States and UTs for an effective Vaccination drive under the ‘Whole of Government” approach since 16th January this year. With the aim to universalize the Vaccination drive, the Government has opened vaccination for all adults above 18 years of age with the onset of Liberalized Phase III of India’s vaccination strategy from 1st May 2021.
It has been a constant endeavour of the Union Government to streamline the vaccination process to increase coverage of all segments of the population. In this regard, taking note of the several representations received by Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare for allowing administration of second 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 as part of 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, Union Health Ministry has written to States/UTs to facilitate vaccination of such persons.
The Ministry has issued SOPs in this regard which have been conveyed to States/UTs. States/UTs have been advised to widely publicize and take all necessary measures to immediately implement these SOPs.
The SOPs are as follows:
At present, based on the recommendations by National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC), the schedule of Covishield vaccine under National Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy is to administer the 2nd dose at 12-16 weeks interval (i.e. after 84 days), after administration of 1st 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.
With a view to providing full coverage of vaccination and facilitating international travel for such genuine reasons, the following procedure shall be followed for administration of second dose of Covishield vaccine for such beneficiaries.
This special dispensation will be available to —
- Students who have to undertake foreign travel for the purposes of education.
- Persons who have to take up jobs in foreign countries
- Athletes, Sportspersons and accompanying staff of Indian contingent attending International Olympic Games be held in Tokyo
States/UT governments shall designate a competent authority in each district for according permission for such administration of second dose of Covishield.
The competent authority shall check the following before according a permission for administration of second dose before the period of 84 days after date of first dose —
- Whether a period of 28 days has elapsed after the date of first dose.
- Genuineness of the purpose of travel based on documents related to —
- Admission Offers or associated formal communications for the of 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.
- Nomination to participate in the Tokyo Olympic games.
- 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.
- 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.
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 3rd June 2021. The relevant entry is at serial number 4 of the WHO EUL is available at: https://extranet.who.int/pqweb/sites/default/files/documents/Status%20of%20COVID-19%20Vaccines%20within%20WHO%20EUL-PQ%20evaluation%20process%20-%203%20June%202021.pdf
Mention of vaccine type as “Covishield” is sufficient and no other qualifying entries are required in the vaccination certificates.
The CoWIN system will soon provide the facility for administration of 2nd dose in such exceptional cases.
Image credit: Tech Raghav