‘Vaccination centers must not require any foreign travel documents for precaution doses’

Vaccination: The Union Health Ministry expressed concern on Friday about the slow pace of COVID-19 vaccination across the States, urging them to accelerate full vaccination coverage by saturating all eligible beneficiaries and using the “First Expiry First Out” principle when using vaccines.

The Ministry directed that no vaccination center or state government should require documentary proof of foreign travel for those seeking the precaution dose before traveling abroad.

Review Meeting for the status of Vaccination

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan informed all States and Union Territories (UTs) of this during a video conference on Friday with Health Secretaries and other senior health officials to review the status of vaccination.

The States have also been informed about the stock of near-expiry doses lying unused with them, based on data on vaccine availability by state vs. due beneficiaries. They were advised that because the COVID-19 vaccine is a valuable resource, they should avoid wasting it at all costs.

“This must be ensured through active monitoring and the “First Expiry First Out” principle, which states that vaccine doses that expire sooner should be used first. “They were advised to use the unused balance doses over the coming months of May, June, and July,” the Health Ministry said in a release.

It was mentioned that in some states, people who want to travel abroad and take the precautionary dose within 90 days of the second dose must provide proof of their intended foreign trip. Mr. Bhushan reiterated that no vaccination center or state government should require documentary proof of foreign travel for those seeking the precautionary dose before traveling abroad. States and UTs had been informed about the situation.

Push for mission mode of vaccination

Mr. Bhushan said the States and UTs should plan a two-month-long “Har GharDastak” campaign 2.0, with detailed district, block, and village level plans, to accelerate the recent placid momentum.

“The goal of the ‘Har GharDastak2.0’ Abhiyan is to vaccinate and saturate the eligible population groups for the first, second, and precaution doses through a door-to-door campaign, with focussed campaigns on old-age homes, schools/colleges, including out-of-school children (for focussed coverage of children aged 12-18), prisons, brick kilns, and other locations,” he explained.

Also mentioned was the under-coverage of those aged 60 with the precaution dose, which makes them vulnerable, as well as the significantly slower rate of coverage in the 12-14 year cohort. States were urged to use micro-plans based on duelists of all eligible beneficiaries to conduct effective monitoring. They were asked to check in with private hospitals on a regular basis to see how the precaution dose was being administered to people aged 18 to 59. 

Mr. Bhushan emphasized the importance of a clear and effective communication strategy for speeding up the nationwide vaccination process. He noted that India’s highly commendable COVID-19 coverage of over 191 crore doses had benefited from customized regional communication best practices. The importance of regional influencers, community leaders, and innovative campaigns, among other things, was also emphasized.

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