Mumbai: Three weeks on, no clarity on vaccination for students on university campuses

It's been more than three weeks that the state higher and technical education minister Uday Samant announced that vaccination for students will be done on university campuses but, the initiative has not started yet. Sources from the state higher education department said the process has not started due to shortage in number of vaccine doses for those above 18 years.

On April 22, 2021, Samant said, "We plan to initiate the Covid-19 vaccination drive through universities for students between 18 to 25 years with the help of volunteers from National Service Scheme (NSS) and National Cadet Corps (NCC) of colleges." The Free Press Journal had reported on April 28, 2021 that major universities, especially in cities where cases are high, such as University of Mumbai (MU) and Fergusson College, Pune were not given any direction from the state higher education department regarding this initiative.

Now, it has been over three weeks, but sources from the department said there is a shortage of vaccine doses. A senior official of the state higher education department said, "We have not started the vaccination drive on university campuses because there is a shortage of vaccine doses for those above 18 years. We will soon take a decision and inform universities once we get some clarity regarding the availability of vaccine stock."

On the other hand, student unions are willing to help as such a drive will ease crowding at regular vaccination centres. Sainath Durge, core team member of Yuva Sena, said, "The plan to provide vaccination for students on university campuses initiated by the Aaditya Thackeray, president of the Yuva Sena, is in its preparatory stage. We will initiate the vaccination drive at the ground level soon."

Nikhil Kamble, general secretary of Maharashtra Youth Congress and senior advisor of the National Students' Union of India (NSUI), said, "We will provide 100 per cent support via volunteers to help in setting up of vaccination camps at university campuses, registration of students and professors, data compilation and communication."

While Manoj Tekde, president of Prahar Students Organisation, Maharashtra said, "We will provide all the necessary support to the state government at the ground level to initiate vaccination drive for students. The second Covid-19 wave has indicated that youngsters need to be protected from the virus infection so students, professors and university staff should be vaccinated on priority."

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Free Press Journal