The government may soon allow a precaution dose of COVID-19 vaccine for those seeking to travel abroad for education, employment, sports and for attending official or business commitments, official sources said on Saturday.
Discussions are also underway on whether overseas-bound travellers opting for booster dose should receive the shot at private vaccination centres and pay for it, they said.
Currently, healthcare and frontline workers and those aged above 60 are being administered precaution doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
With scheduled international flights set to resume from Sunday, the Ministry of External Affairs recently highlighted the travel restrictions being enforced by certain countries in view of the requirement of a third/booster dose and how that is impacting necessary travel of Indian travellers, sources with knowledge of the matter told PTI.
The Union Health Ministry is also learnt to have received representations for allowing administration of precaution dose for those seeking to travel for employment opportunities, educational purpose or for attending official/business commitments, etc.
“In view of these, the health ministry is actively considering to allow booster/precaution dose of COVID vaccine for those seeking to travel abroad for jobs, admission in foreign educational institutions, participating in sports tournaments, in bilateral, multilateral meetings as part of India’s official delegation or for attending business commitments,” an official source told PTI.
No official directive in this regard has been issued by the Union Health Ministry yet.
The prioritisation and sequencing of the dose would be based on the completion of nine months from the date of administration of the second dose as per the existing guidelines.
The countrywide vaccination drive was rolled out on January 16, 2021, with the healthcare workers getting inoculated in the first phase. Vaccination of the frontline workers started from February 2 last year.
The next phase of COVID-19 vaccination commenced on March 1 last year for people over 60 years of age and those aged 45 and above with specified co-morbid conditions.
India launched vaccination for all people aged more than 45 years from April 1 last year.
The government then decided to expand its vaccination drive by allowing everyone above 18 years of age to be inoculated against the viral disease from May 1 last year.
The next phase of vaccination commenced from January 3 this year for adolescents in the age group of 15-18 years.
India began administering precaution doses of the vaccines to the healthcare and frontline workers and those aged 60 and above with comorbidities from January 10 this year.
COVID-19 vaccination for children in the age group of 12-14 years started from March 16 this year.