Shimla: In order to facilitate persons travelling to foreign nations due to specific purposes, the State government has decided to administer the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine between 28 to 84 days after the first dose to such persons.

This special dispensation will be available to students who have to undertake foreign travel for the purposes of education, persons who have to take up jobs in foreign countries, athletes, sportspersons and accompanying staff of Indian Contingent attending International Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo.

Special Operating Procedures (SOPs) have been issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) for the same.

A spokesperson of the government has informed that as per recommendation by the National Expert group on vaccine Administration for COVID – 19 (NEGVAC), the schedule of Covishield vaccine under National COVID – 19 vaccination strategy is to administer the second dose at 12-16 weeks interval after administration of first dose.

“However, the MOHFW was in receipt of several representations from various quarters for people who are to undertake foreign travel in pursuit of their employment or educational matters and have taken first dose of COVISHIELD but whose planned dates of travel fall prior to completion of the currently mandated minimum interval of 84 days from the date of first dose” he said.

He added that as per the guidelines, permission for such administration of second dose of Covishield will be given by concerned Chief Medical Officers in the State of Himachal Pradesh only after checking whether a period of 28 days has elapsed after the date of first dose, genuineness of the purpose of travel based on documents related to, whether a person is already studying in a foreign educational institution and has to return to that institution for continuing his/her education, interview calls for a job or offer letters for taking up employment and nomination to participate in the Tokyo Olympic games.

It has been further advised that vaccination should be availed in such cases through Passport. This facility shall be available to those who need to undertake international travel for these specified purposes in the period up to August 31, 2021.

“All technical protocols as prescribed in the guidelines of the Ministry regarding COVID vaccination centers and Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) management etc shall have to be followed” he added.

He further clarified that the COWIN system will soon provide the facility for administration of second dose in such exceptional cases.