Several non-resident Indians (NRIs) across coastal Karnataka are finding themselves in a mess after taking their first jab of vaccines from India. This is because the WHO-approved US and Chinese vaccines, such as Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Sinopharm, are unavailable in India, resulting in them being stranded in their native places.
Moreover, what adds to the miseries of the NRIs, who arrived in India before March, is that they took the Covishield vaccine in India and counties like UAE and Kuwait demand India to mention the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine rather than Covishield and add the passport number and the Aadhaar number in their vaccine certificates.
The non-inclusion of the vaccine name and the NRI’s passport number in their vaccination documents are disrupting their travel plans and prospects of resuming work overseas. And those who took a jab of Covaxin are having a harrowing time as the WHO is yet to give a nod to the SII’s vaccine and for this reason, they cannot enter any foreign countries.
Sharath Kumar, an NRI working in Kuwait, came back to Mangaluru in March. After this, he took both doses of Covishield and now wants to go back to Kuwait. However, the technical glitch around Covishield and inability to put Oxford-AstraZeneca in his vaccine certificate have put his travel plan to Kuwait in jeopardy, The Federal reported. “Even if the flight operations resume, the Kuwait administration has to recognize Covishield,” Sharath told The Federal. “We have raised this concern with the embassy and they have assured to take it up with the government. However, there’s no solution as of now,” Sharath adds.
Following similar concerns in a neighbouring state, Kerala, a petition was filed by NRIs on June 2 in Kerala High Court that ordered the state government to address the issue and instructed the Centre to consider a plea of Covishield vaccine, ‘Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine’ and the passport number as an identification number in the vaccination certificates of NRIs.
The petitioners had also requested to give internal approval to Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.
The Court on June 24 issued notice to the Centre asking about the steps that have been taken to get the WHO’s approval for the indigenously developed Covid-19 vaccine so that it gets acceptance worldwide allowing people to travel abroad.
Meanwhile, the members of the NRI association in Karnataka have informed the government of India and the embassy in Kuwait, and are hoping that the issue gets resolved as soon as possible.