Going abroad? Check if you're eligible for 2nd Covishield dose before 84 days

The Centre has allowed people going abroad for certain purposes to receive the second dose of Covishield vaccine before the prescribed gap of 84 days. Check if you are eligible for the same:

Going abroad? Check if you're eligible for 2nd Covishield dose before 84 days

While the move to increase the gap between two Covishield doses has triggered a major debate on whether the decision was taken on scientific advice or due to vaccine shortage, the government has allowed some categories to receive the second shot before the prescribed interval of 84 days.

Last week, the Union government issued standard operating procedures (SOPs), allowing people intending to undertake international travel for education purposes, joining employment and as part of the Indian contingent to the Tokyo Olympics to take the second Covishield dose before the 12-16 weeks' prescribed time.

However, even in these cases, the second dose will only be administered after 28 days from the first dose of Covishield, as per the SOPs.

Planning to take a trip abroad? Check if you're eligible for an early second Covishield dose

1. Students who have to undertake foreign travel for education

The Centre has allowed students, who have to undertake foreign travel for education, to receive the second Covishield dose before the prescribed 84 days' gap, however, not before 28 days have elapsed since the first dose.

According to the SOPs issued last week, "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 education."

The competent authority 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, the SOPs said.

2. Those who have to take up jobs in foreign countries

The special dispensation of a reduced gap between Covishield doses has also been made available to people intending to travel abroad for jobs. According to the government notification, those who have to take up jobs in foreign countries can get their second dose of Covishield before the 84 days' gap time.

3. Olympics contingent

With the Tokyo Olympics round the corner, the government has also allowed athletes, sportspersons, and the accompanying staff of the Indian contingent attending the games to get themselves a shot of the Covishield vaccine under this arrangement.

However, the government said that for all these special categories, the second Covishield dose would only be administered after 28 days from the date of the first dose, adding that this facility shall be available to those who need to undertake international travel for these specified purposes in the period up to August 31.

How do you avail vaccination in such cases?

According to the health ministry, vaccination may be availed in such cases through passport, which is one of the permissible ID documents according to the guidelines, so that the passport number is printed in the vaccination certificate.

However, if the passport was not used during the administration of the first Covishield 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 read.

It further stated: Wherever necessary, the competent authority may issue another certificate linking the vaccination certificate with the passport number of the beneficiary.

A mention of the vaccine type as "Covishield" is sufficient, and no other qualifying entries are required in the vaccination certificates, it said.

Row over Covishield dose gap

The Government of India's National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) on May 13 decided to increase the gap between two doses of Covishield to 12-16 weeks, citing "scientific evidence".

However, the government's move has drawn criticism, with experts believing the move aimed to address the temporary shortage of doses.

Dr NK Arora, NTAGI chairman, has maintained that the decision to increase the dose gap is scientifically backed. On Wednesday, Dr Arora said: "Other countries like Canada and Sri Lanka have gone for this 12 to 16-week gap. Studies have shown that vaccine efficacy even against the alpha variant remains similar for both partially or fully vaccinated. Data also shows that quick administration of both doses may in fact decrease antibodies. Primarily, this was envisaged to be a single-dose vaccine."

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