The Kerala High Court on Monday ordered the Centre to allow a second dose of Covishield after a four-week gap instead of 12 weeks. The court's order comes amid a massive surge in COVID-19 cases in Kerala.
The court has also asked the government to make changes to the CoWIN app to enable a reduced dose gap for "those who want it".
The Kerala High Court said: "It is, however, made clear that I have not considered the question whether a person is entitled to make a choice between early protection and better protection from the Covid infection in the matter of accepting the free vaccine provided by the government."
Justice P B Suresh Kumar said that if the central and state governments can permit persons travelling abroad to choose between early and better protection from COVID-19, there is no reason why the same privilege cannot be extended to those here who want early protection in connection with their employment or education.
"All those are not persons who reside and settle permanently abroad. Most of them are persons who have to come back to India soon after their assignment," the court observed.
The court also said that when people have the right to refuse to accept vaccine, there is absolutely no reason why the State should take the stand that they shall not be permitted to accept the second dose after four weeks in terms of the original protocol, especially when they themselves are procuring the vaccine by spending money from their pockets.
The observations and directions of the court came while allowing the plea by Kitex Garments Ltd, represented by advocate Blaze K Jose, seeking permission to administer the second dose of COVISHIELD vaccine to its workers without having to wait for 84 days.
Kitex, in its plea, had said that it has already vaccinated more than 5,000 of its workers with the first dose and has arranged for the second dose at a cost of nearly Rs 93 lakh, but was unable to administer the same due to the prevailing restrictions.
The Centre had opposed the plea by contending that the 84-day gap between two doses of COVISHIELD was fixed to increase the efficacy of the vaccine, as recommended by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) and was also based on the technical inputs provided by the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG).
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