Allow people to take second Covishield jab in 4 weeks: Kerala HC to Centre

Kerala HC directed Centre to allow scheduling of second dose of Covishield vaccine on the CoWIN portal after four weeks from the first

The court said that government can treat those who take second dose early as a separate class from those who take the jab after 84 days

The Kerala High Court has directed the Centre to allow scheduling of the second dose of Covishield vaccine on the CoWIN portal four weeks from the first shot for those who want to take it earlier than the suggested gap of 84 days.

Justice PB Suresh Kumar said that if the central and state governments can permit persons travelling abroad to choose between early and better protection from COVID-19, there is no reason why the same privilege cannot be extended to those who want early protection in connection with their employment or education.

The high court, in its order dated September 3, which was made available on Monday, said that even according to the Union Health Ministry’s policy, the people shall have the choice to get early vaccination, for the implementation of which, vaccine is being distributed on payment basis through private hospitals as well.

The court also said that according to the Centre, vaccination is voluntary and there is no compulsion on the part of anyone to accept it and therefore, the requirement to administer two doses of the vaccine and the time interval between them for better protection from infection ‘can only be considered as advisory.’

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The court also said that when people have the right to refuse to accept vaccine, there is absolutely no reason why the state should take the stand that they shall not be permitted to accept the second dose after four weeks in terms of the original protocol, especially when the people themselves are procuring the vaccine by spending money from their pockets.

It said that since such exercise of right by individuals cannot be absolute and was subject to the rights of others to health. The court also said that the government can treat those who take second dose early as a separate class from those who take the jab after 84 days, while imposing or relaxing restrictions to contain the spread of the pandemic.

With these observations, the court said, “The fourth respondent (Centre) is directed to make necessary provisions forthwith in the CoWIN portal, so as to enable scheduling of second dose of Covishield vaccine after four weeks of the first dose for those who want to accept the second dose after a period of four weeks in terms of the initial protocol of the vaccine.”

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The observations and directions of the court came during the hearing of a plea by Kitex Garments Ltd., represented by advocate Blaze K Jose, seeking permission to administer the second dose of Covishield vaccine to its workers, without having to wait for 84 days.

Kitex, in its plea, had said that it has already vaccinated more than 5,000 of its workers with the first dose and has arranged for the second dose at a cost of nearly ₹93 lakh, but was unable to administer those due to the prevailing restrictions.

The Centre had opposed the plea by contending that the 84-day gap between two doses of Covishield was fixed to increase the efficacy of the vaccine, as recommended by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) and was also based on the technical inputs provided by the National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group (NITAG).

Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India will be administering 1.25 crore COVID-19 vaccines daily. Meanwhile, India logged 38,948 new COVID-19 cases and 219 COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of cases to 3,30,27,621, and the overall death toll due to COVID-19 to 4,40,752.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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