In view of the ongoing shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, parents of students who need to travel abroad for their studies have started to approach public representatives, requesting them to arrange special vaccination drives for their wards.
The anxious parents said that the semester in most of the universities in Europe and the United States starts between August and September. Only if the students get the vaccinated now will they be able to get the second dose within the stipulated 8 to 12 weeks gap. “Several universities have laid out strict guidelines for their foreign students. Students need to get their doses completed or else their admission would be cancelled,” said a parent requesting anonymity.
Many parents and students have been trying to book slots since the first week of May. However, due to the rush, many couldn't get a booking for a single day. “Now that dosages for those aged between 18 and 44 have been temporarily stalled, I’m afraid that my daughter’s admission could get cancelled," said another parent.
Mihir Kotecha, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator from Mulund, said that he is making arrangements to administer vaccine doses to students who have to travel abroad for their studies. "Total 230 students who are willing to go abroad for their studies have registered themselves in our office so far. For registration purposes, students will have to provide us with a photocopy of the confirmation letter of admission. After the arrangement for the vaccine has been made, someone from the office would contact them and arrange an appointment for the doses," Kotecha said.
He also mentioned that the students will have to bear the cost of the doses, as private hospitals will be appointed for administering the doses. "Initially, we had kept a target of 100 doses, but the demand has increased, so we are working towards giving students their first dose of Covishield in the next four to five days," Kotecha said.
He also mentioned that students will have to bear the cost of the doses. "For students, free vaccines will not be available as we will be appointing private hospitals or dispensaries for the inoculation," Kotecha said.
Asif Zakaria, senior Congress corporator from Bandra (West), said that he received similar requests from several parents and students. “The requests to arrange for vaccines have been coming regularly. Studying in foreign universities costs a lot of money. Parents are scared that if their child is not vaccinated, then their admission could get cancelled," Zakaria told the Free Press Journal. “I think the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) should frame a policy for students and specially-abled children. Unless the authorities step in, this issue cannot be solved on a large scale," Zakaria said.
A senior BMC official said that unless the stock of vaccines is replenished, it will be difficult for BMC to accommodate new categories. "For the time being, students willing to go abroad can arrange for vaccines in consultation with private hospitals. Unless the stock is refilled, we will not be able to start vaccination for all the eligible age groups in Mumbai," the official said.