Gujarat trader held for not taking COVID shot, but is vaccination a must?
People wait for vaccination outside a Delhi hospital. | PTI File Photo

Gujarat trader held for not taking COVID shot, but is vaccination a must?

A Gujarat shopkeeper was arrested on July 17 by the police for not taking the COVID jab, apparently in violation of the state government order which makes it mandatory for shopkeepers and traders to inoculate before July 31, 2021.

While the first information report (FIR) registered against the 54-year-old shopkeeper from Kutch specifically mentioned that he had violated district collector’s notification about compulsory vaccination by July 31, police officials claimed the main reason for his arrest was the violation of mask and social distancing norms, and not the issue of inoculation, reported PTI.

“The person was running his shop in the Kandla port area without wearing a mask. We also noticed customers were not maintaining social distancing. The collector’s notification about vaccination also carries a warning in this regard,” said police inspector K P Sagathiya.

A notification issued by the district collector on July 9 states that to stem the spread of the coronavirus, people associated with businesses pertaining to hotels, malls, ration shops, saloons, and restaurants “are required to get their first dose of vaccine by July 31”.

A section of experts, however, claim that making COVID vaccine compulsory is against the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India. They also argue that not all people need to take the shot to develop herd immunity, for which the government says even 70% vaccination is enough.

Is it mandatory in India to take a COVID shot?

As per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, COVID vaccine is not mandatory but advisable. A notification issued by the ministry states: “Vaccination for COVID-19 is voluntary. However, it is advisable to receive the complete schedule of COVID-19 vaccine for protecting one-self against this disease and also to limit the spread of this disease to the close contacts including family members, friends, relatives and co-workers.”

Also read: India logs in 30,093 COVID-19 cases, lowest in 125 days

Except Gujarat, which made it compulsory for shopkeepers and traders to vaccinate before July 31, no other state has passed such an order. There have been sporadic reports of housing societies in some cities making it compulsory for their resident members to inoculate.

On July 19, over 52 lakh vaccine doses were administered in India, the Union Health Ministry told. Therefore, the cumulative number of vaccine doses administered in India has exceeded the 41 crore mark.

What’s happening in the world?

Australia was probably the first country to make COVID vaccination a must for paralympic athletes. Besides it is mandatory for healthcare workers who are old and at risk.

In Britain, care home workers have to necessarily take COVID shots.

Indonesia has a very strict law with regards to vaccination. Made it compulsory early this year with a provision to slap a fine of $350 for not complying.

Russia and France identified restaurants, cafes and bars as hotspots for the infection to spread. Therefore, the two countries made it mandatory for the owners to serve only those who have been vaccinated or those who produce negative COVID report. Greece too has introduced similar rule. Russia, however, withdrew the condition recently after cases started dropping.

Italy, which was the first country in the world to face the consequences of COVID pandemic, has made vaccination mandatory for health workers and pharmacists. Those who refuse could face suspension for a year.

Also read: Zydus Cadila to soon begin vaccine trials for children above 5 years

Vaccination is not a must in the US, but in the face of an emerging Delta variant, the US President Joe Biden has asked people to “please, please get vaccinated”.

Carrot and stick approach

The new Delta variant of the coronavirus is sweeping through Europe, compelling the countries to scramble to ramp up vaccination drives. While most countries have resisted the temptation to enforce it, they are trying hard to persuade the reluctant people (mostly anti-VAX campaigners) to get vaccinated to check the new delta variant, which is more transmissible, from spreading further.

(With inputs from agencies)

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