The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) have started vaccination of students with confirmed admission in foreign universities, HT has learnt. The move comes a few days after state tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray announced the special drive.
“My friends managed to get a slot on the first two days itself, and even though the system can act as a hindrance whenever we try to confirm slots, I finally managed to get my shot on Tuesday,” said 25-year old Akriti Pandya, who works in a Mumbai MNC and has confirmed admission for MBA in an Australian University.
Maharashtra government’s directive to give the second dose of Covid-19 within six weeks would help Pune-based Siddhant Yelwande, a 22-year-old student, who has been admitted into the University of Minnesota, USA. “My second dose on CoWin app was assigned for August 24 even though I was supposed to reach the university on August 23,” he said.
Kerala, Karnataka and Telangana have also followed Maharashtra’s footsteps by allowing priority vaccination to students going abroad for studies. While Kerala has a special portal for students, Karnataka has provided an email id for the same.
Last week, the Kerala government decided to give the second dose of Covishield vaccine to students who are travelling abroad for studies after four to six weeks of the first jab as against the 12-16 week gap recommended by the Union health ministry.
The Kerala government has also decided to issue vaccine certificates carrying passport numbers and other details. It has also opened a special portal for those who want the second dose of vaccine on priority. The applicants need to produce documents supporting immediate travel and once the application is approved they will be given the second dose as well as the vaccination certificate.
According to the state health ministry, at least 2,000 students have applied for the preferential vaccine so far. Before the onset of the pandemic, an average of 20,000 students went abroad for higher education from the state.
Also read: China and BRICS stand with India in its fight against the pandemic – Chinese FM
Karnataka has also come up with similar guidelines with a special vaccination drive starting from Tuesday. The drive aims to vaccinate around 300 students going abroad for higher education.
“Vaccination confirmation was not attached to the passport but with the PAN card and Aadhar card. But now, to facilitate the students and employees going abroad, it has been linked to passports,” Dr CN Ashwath Narayan, deputy chief minister of Karnataka and head of the state’s task force on Covid-19 said in a statement.
Both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh governments have announced a special drive for vaccinating students going abroad but haven’t begun the process yet. The officials in the two states said the process would start in a few days after the guidelines are issued.
Akshay Chaturvedi, founder and CEO of Leverage Edu, an AI-based startup that helps students with their study-abroad process, said the move is a big relief for students. “In times like these, state governments need to empathise with the fact that students invest a lot of time and resources to get into their dream universities,” he said.
In a recent survey of 5,000 students registered on its platform, Leverage Edu found that 94% were keener to travel and study abroad this year compared to last year. Of those surveyed, 58% said they made their plans within the last three months and 36% said they had these plans in place for much but are able to execute them only now.
Leap, another platform and education-centric neo bank that facilitates end-to-end solutions for study-abroad aspirants, said the vaccination drive will allow students to reach their universities for the fall semester. “Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, international students have been dealing with a lot of uncertainty with regards to their classes, whether they would be able to fly or not. Many students who were supposed to start their classes last year deferred their degree to this year, hoping to be able to attend offline classes,” said Vaibhav Singh, co-founder of Leap.
No such special vaccination drives have been announced in several other states such as West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh, among others.
(With inputs from state bureaus)