Andhra Pradesh

Vaccine hurdles to foreign travel plans

People requiring to travel abroad in the coming months to various international destinations are in a catch-22 situation due to issues surrounding vaccination.

While the shortage of vaccine was the only concern till recently, other issues such as the extension of Covishield dosage interval and further delay in the approval of Covaxin by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that unfolded recently have added to the uncertainty.

Thousands of students from Andhra Pradesh travel to the U.S.A. for postgraduate education every year and this year too many are planning to travel abroad for the September intake. However, many universities in the U.S. have now made vaccination of students with the World Health Organisation approved manufacturers mandatory.

Some colleges and universities are asking the students who chose to stay on their respective campuses to get vaccinated before the start of the 2021-22 academic year.

Exemption

Even though the Central government opened vaccination for the 18+ age group, the State government has deferred it as there is a limited supply of doses and currently only the persons aged over 45 are being vaccinated. However, for the convenience of students with overseas travel plans and NRIs, the State government decided to vaccinate them irrespective of age so that their plans are not affected.

“The only option we have is to take Covishield now. We can’t risk taking Covaxin given the possibility of delay in approval by WHO beyond September. Even if I take Covishield now, the next dose can be taken just a week before September. If everything goes as planned there may be no issue, otherwise I have to go for January intake,” says C. Swetha, who is aspiring to study abroad.

According to reports, some persons with foreign travel plans have already taken Covaxin through private hospitals outside the State when the Centre opened vaccination for the 18+ age group. In such cases, they have to wait until the vaccine is approved by WHO or choose an institution that doesn’t mandate vaccination.

On the other hand, people planning to visit their family abroad and the students who came back to the State due to a medical emergency of parents are also facing issues.

“I have waited to take Covaxin for weeks even though I got an opportunity to get Covishield. Following the latest developments, I have realised it is best to take Covishield in which case I can be sure of travelling to my son’s place in Saudi after 12 weeks if the country permits,” says S. Nagamani, a school teacher who has been forced to postpone her plan to travel to Saudi Arabia for a year.

Other issues

“I and my brother rushed to the city after one of my parents fell sick due to COVID-19 and got admitted to hospital. Now that he has recovered, we are planning to go back to the U.K. Though vaccination upon return is not mandatory, yet we need to be quarantined for at least 10 days and it costs a couple of lakhs,” says Sk. Fazal from the city.

So far, of the 1.07 crore doses administered in the State, only 18% (19.25 lakh) were Covaxin and the rest were Covishield.

The State government is likely to administer nearly 50 lakh doses in June as the Central government alone promised a supply of about 35 lakh doses.


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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 10:44:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/vaccine-hurdles-to-foreign-travel-plans/article34746676.ece

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