The vaccination for COVID-19 is underway in the country in full swing. On Monday, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that people who have to travel abroad can now take the second dose of the Covishield vaccine after 28 days. Earlier, the second dose of the Covishield vaccine was being administered after 28 days but later, it was extended to 12 weeks. 

The ministry has issued guidelines to states and Union Territories to provide vaccines to such people who have completed 28 days of their first dose.

"Taking note of the several representations received by the Ministry for allowing administration of the second dose of Covishield for such persons who have only taken the first dose of Covishield and are seeking to undertake international travel for educational purposes or employment opportunities or as part of India`s contingent for Tokyo Olympic Games, but whose planned travel dates fall prior to completion of the currently mandated minimum interval of 84 days from the date of the first dose, the Ministry has written to states/UTs to facilitate vaccination of such persons," the ministry said in a statement.

It said the issue was discussed in Empowered Group 5 (EG-5) and appropriate recommendations have been received in this context.

"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 and athletes, sportspersons and accompanying staff of Indian contingent attending International Olympic Games be held in Tokyo," the ministry said.

It said that states and UT governments shall designate a competent authority in each district for according permission for the administration of the second dose of Covishield to the persons given relaxation.

The ministry said that the competent authority will make various checks before according permission for the administration of the second dose before the period of 84 days after the date of the first dose. This includes whether a period of 28 days has elapsed after the date of the first dose and the genuineness of the purpose of travel based on documents.

"It is advised that vaccination may be availed in cases through passport which is one of the permissible ID documents as per the current guidelines so that the passport number is printed in the Certificate," the release said.

As of now, based on the recommendations by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC), the schedule of the Covishield vaccine under the National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy is to administer the 2nd dose at 12-16 weeks interval (i.e. after 84 days), after administration of the first dose.

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