New Delhi: The states of Kerala and Telangana and the city of Mumbai have decided to prioritise the vaccination process for students going abroad for higher studies.
The Kerala government has decided to allow those traveling abroad for work and higher studies to take the second dose of Covishield vaccine after four to six weeks of the first dose, as against the 12-16-week gap which the Centre recommended this month.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has also announced that those going abroad for studies would be given priority in Mumbai in the 18-44 age group for vaccination.
The Telangana government has also announced the ease in process for students, adding that the guidelines will be issued soon.
Cabinet has decided that Students going overseas for higher education will be given vaccination on priority so they can travel safely
Guidelines will be issued soon with details
— KTR (@KTRTRS) May 30, 2021
Process important for vaccine passport, whenever it comes
The US, Canada, and Australia, which receive the bulk of Indian students, haven’t opened up yet to the provision of a vaccine passport — documentation to prove that the applicant has been inoculated against Covid-19.
However, education experts say whenever vaccine passports come into the picture, Indian students will be at an advantageous position if they receive timely vaccination. They also urged more states and metro cities to follow suit.
So far, only the European Union has agreed on allowing fully vaccinated visitors. Reports say that the US is taking a “very close look” at allowing vaccine passports. However nothing has been finalised as yet. Same is the case with Australia.
Even in the absence of a vaccine passport, experts say it helps the students a lot if they are vaccinated on priority.
“The fact that state governments are thinking about prioritising vaccination for students going abroad is a very positive development. It shows that there is concern with respect to students,” said Sumeet Jain, co-founder and higher education expert at Yocket, a study-abroad platform.
“Even as US and Canada that get the bulk of Indian students do not have a vaccine passport so far, the countries are thinking about it… situation is extremely dynamic and whenever they do decide to go for a vaccine passport, students who are inoculated will be at an advantage,” he said.
Jain called on more states to come forward to vaccinate students on priority.
‘Better for students to get vaccinated here’
Vaccination has been one of the top priorities of students who want to move abroad. ThePrint had earlier reported how healthcare infrastructure is a priority for students while choosing a higher studies destination.
Early access to vaccination is one of the things the students mentioned while talking about better healthcare.
Commenting on vaccination for students, Akshay Chaturvedi, founder and chief executive Leverage Edu, a career and education consuling platform for students, said “It’s a good thing that Kerala is giving priority to students in vaccination. Other states like Punjab and Andhra Pradesh also need to do the same because the bulk of students go abroad from these two states. Then the metros also need to follow suit after Mumbai… Delhi and Bengaluru should also prioritise students.”
He added that apart from prioritising vaccination for students, the Indian government also needs to ensure that the global acceptance for Covaxin comes in time because if that doesn’t happen, students who would have received the Covaxin jab won’t be eligible for the vaccine passport — whenever it comes.
While formulating travel policies for vaccinated passengers, countries are either considering vaccines approved by their own regulatory agencies, or those on the WHO’s Emergency Use Listing. Among the vaccines being administered in India, Covishield is on the list, Covaxin isn’t yet.
Nirupama Dey, a freelance counsellor based in the national capital, also agreed that it’s better for students to get vaccinated before they travel.
“It is better that students get the vaccine while they are in India. It’s better both in terms of their health and safety when they travel and also financially… you never know the kind of expenses they might have to bear for vaccination in the country they travel to,” she said.
Vaibhav Singh, co-founder of Leap, another study abroad platform said, “Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, international students have been dealing with a lot of uncertainty with regard to their classes, whether they would be able to fly or not. Many students who were supposed to start their classes last year deferred their degree to this year, hoping to be able to attend offline classes.
“The second wave added more uncertainty to their plans. Now that countries like the US are opening up flights for international students, or allowing vaccinated students to attend classes, students will be able to attend their classes in-person. Helping them with priority vaccinations in all states in India will be a great move to allow them to start their degrees in fall 2021,” he added.