New Delhi: Those intending to undertake international travel for education purposes, joining employment and as part of the Indian contingent to the Tokyo Olympics will be allowed to take the second dose of Covid vaccine Covishield prior to the prescribed time interval of 84 days after the first dose.
However, according to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the Union health ministry on Monday, even in these cases, the second dose will only be administered after 28 days from the date of the first dose.
The Co-WIN system will soon provide the facility for the administration of the second dose in such exceptional cases, the ministry said.
It said it has received several representations for allowing the administration of the second dose of Covishield to such people who have taken the first dose and are seeking to undertake international travel for educational purposes or for employment opportunities or as part of the Indian contingent for the Tokyo Olympic games, but whose planned travel dates fall prior to the completion of the currently-mandated minimum interval of 84 days from the date of the first dose.
The matter has been discussed in the Empowered Group 5 (EG-5) and appropriate recommendations have been received.
In this context, with a view to provide full coverage of vaccination and facilitating international travel for such genuine reasons, the ministry has issued the SOPs according to which the states shall designate a competent authority in each district to grant permission for such administration of the second dose of Covishield.
The competent authority shall check whether a period of 28 days has elapsed after the date of the first dose and the genuineness of the purpose of travel, based on documents related to admission offers or the associated formal communications for the purpose of education.
It will also check whether a person is already studying in a foreign educational institution and has to return to that institution for continuing his or her education, interview calls for a job or offer letters for taking up employment and the nomination to participate in the Tokyo Olympic games, before according the permission for the administration of the second dose.
This special dispensation will be available to the students who have to undertake foreign travel for the purposes of education, those who have to take up jobs in foreign countries, athletes, sportspersons and the accompanying staff of the Indian contingent attending the Tokyo Olympic games.
The ministry advised that vaccination may be availed in such cases through passport, which is one of the permissible ID documents according to the current guidelines, so that the passport number is printed in the vaccination certificate.
However, if the passport was not used at the time of the administration of the first dose, the details of the photo ID card used for vaccination will be printed in the vaccination certificate and a mention of the passport number in the vaccination certificate is not to be insisted upon, the SOPs stated.
Wherever necessary, the competent authority may issue another certificate linking the vaccination certificate with the passport number of the beneficiary, it stated.
A mention of the vaccine type as “Covishield” is sufficient and no other qualifying entries are required in the vaccination certificates.
This facility shall be available to those who need to undertake international travel for these specified purposes in the period up to August 31.
All technical protocols as prescribed in the guidelines of the ministry regarding Covid vaccination centres and AEFI management etc. shall have to be followed.
The states and Union territories have been advised to widely publicise and take all necessary measures to immediately implement these SOPs.
Presently, based on the recommendations by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC), the dosage schedule of Covishield under the National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy is to administer the second dose at an interval of 12-16 weeks (after 84 days) since the administration of the first dose.