Kerala Makes Covid Vaccination Drive Easier For Foreign Job And Study Aspirants

Amid the chaos around an acute shortage of vaccines available in India, the Kerala government is trying to make it easier for the people who need to get back to work abroad and students whose academic session would commence in September abroad.

To make Indians entry to foreign countries hustle bustle free, the state government of Kerala has taken quite a few steps, including prioritizing the 18-45 years of age group people for free Covid-19 vaccination.

An immediate decision has been taken regarding inoculating the prioritized group as several foreign countries have made vaccination compulsory for those entering the nation for study and work purposes, Health Minister Veena George on May 25 said.

Additionally, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan-led government is also issuing and updating vaccination certificates with passport numbers to people travelling abroad where it’s mandatory for their entry.

Image Credit: Kerala Health Department Website

Countries like the US, UK and UAE demand vaccine certificates with the passport number of the visitor for travel clearance. Many people have submitted their Aadhar numbers as IDs for registration on the central government’s CoWin portal and have been facing issues abroad. Although the Kerala government had raised the issue to the center, they have yet to reply. Hence, the state government has decided to provide a certificate in the prescribed format to fully vaccinated people. This has come after an order issued by Health Secretary Rajan Khobragade on May 28.

As Covishield and Covaxin have been authorized for emergency use by the Central Drugs and Standard Control Organization of India, the vaccination certificate along with the person’s passport number would be issued if the individual wishes to get travel clearance after taking both jabs. The district medical officer has been given authority to issue the certificate.

The state government has also decided to reduce the gap between Covid vaccine shots for those travelling abroad. It has also clarified that an individual who has taken Covishield and needs to get travel clearance will be eligible for a second jab of the same vaccine after four to six weeks of the first dose. The stock of Covishield vaccines purchased directly by the state will be used to inoculate them.

Image Credit: Kerala Health Department Website

As the CoWin portal doesn’t administer the second dose of Covishield in less than 12 weeks, the district health department of Kerala will record this separately. The district officers have been ordered to verify valid visas, admission documents for students, and job confirmation or work permit documents to provide them with their preferable vaccine.

Though the World Health Organization (WHO) has already cleared the AstraZeneca vaccine, Covishield manufactured by the Serum Indian Institute (SII) in India raises validation-related concerns. It is because various countries are demanding certificate under Oxford Astrazeneca Vaccine’s brand name. Covaxin by Indian vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech, on the other hand, hasn’t made it through the WHO’s approved vaccine list yet and expect to be listed by September of this year. These two issues are still giving a hard time to the people planning to visit foreign countries this year to get travel clearance.

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