After much anticipation, the COVID-19 vaccination drive began in India in January 2021. The Indian government inoculated people in phases with the healthcare and frontline workers getting vaccinated in the first phase.
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The second phase and third phase of the vaccination drive covered everyone above the age of 45 years. Finally, from 1st May 2021, people above the age of 18 years became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccines in India.
As of 10th June 2021, more than 24 crore vaccine doses have been administered in India while over 4 crore people have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus. The data is heartening to see especially at a time when the country is recovering from the brutal second wave of the pandemic.
Moreover, getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the only way for Indians to travel abroad for education and job purposes.
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The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic was devastating, to say the least. The daily new COVID-19 cases touched a record 4 lakh in the first week of May with most countries shutting their borders for the Indian citizens. However, a few countries like the USA and the UK allowed exceptions for students who are due to travel from India for studies. But the only catch is that they need to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus before their travel.
An Indian citizen will be able to travel abroad, especially in the current pandemic, only after receiving both doses of their COVID-19 vaccine. In order to streamline the process of coordinating the vaccination details of a person travelling abroad, the government has decided to link the COVID-19 vaccine certificate to the passport.
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The Government of India has recently announced that the vaccine certificate of an Indian citizen travelling abroad will be linked to his/her passport. This decision has been made keeping in mind those people who are due to travel abroad for studies, employment opportunities or as part of the Indian contingent in the Tokyo Olympics 2021. Such people will be required to get their vaccine certificate linked to their passports to be eligible for travel.
People scheduled to travel abroad are advised to get their vaccination registration on CoWin done through their passport. This will ease the process of linking the vaccine certificate with the passport as the passport number will be mentioned in the certificate.
However, doing so is not mandatory and nobody is forced to register for the vaccine via their passport. In case a person due to travel abroad did not use his/her passport to get the first COVID-19 jab, then the details of the photo ID used for the registration will be mentioned on the certificate. Later, the competent authority will issue an additional certificate linking the vaccine certificate of the traveller with his/her passport, if needed.
Currently, people can register themselves for the COVID-19 vaccine on CoWin through their Aadhaar Card, passport, driving license, Voter ID and other permissible photo IDs.
Besides announcing the decision to link the COVID-19 vaccine certificate to the passport, the government has also allowed an early second dose of the Covishield vaccine to Indians scheduled to travel abroad until 31st August 2021.
As per the guidelines issued by the government in May 2021, the second dose of the Covishield (Oxford’s AstraZeneca) vaccine will be administered in India after 84 days of taking the first dose. But with this announcement people can get their second dose of Covishield before 84 days of getting the first jab.
However, only the following people are allowed to get an early second dose of Covishield:
Every state and union territory in the country is directed to assign an official in each district to grant permissions to beneficiaries for the early second jab of Covishield. Although, the permission will be granted only to people who have completed 28 days of their first Covishield dose.
Apart from Covishield, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines are also being administered to people in India. While the second dose of Covaxin can be taken after 28 days of the first dose, the second dose of Sputnik V can be administered after an interval of 21 days.
Nonetheless, Covishield is the only vaccine in India that has been approved by more than 130 countries across the globe. As a result, Indians travelling to most foreign countries need to be vaccinated with Covishield as Covaxin and Sputnik V is not accepted there.
Summing It Up
The latest guidelines on early Covishield second jab and linking of vaccine certificate with the passport has come as a ray of hope for people who are scheduled to travel abroad on or before 31st August 2021. They would not have to miss their employment opportunities or pass on their admission offer due to a delay in getting the second jab. So go ahead and obtain permission to get the second jab of Covishield before completing 84 days.