The Union health ministry on Thursday said that getting a vaccine against the coronavirus in India will be voluntary and released a document to answer frequently asked questions about the massive immunisation programme.
Experts said that vaccinating a billion people, including hundreds of millions of adults for the first time, against Covid-19 would be a daunting task in the first tranche. “Vaccination for Covid-19 is voluntary,” the eight-page document said. “However, it is advisable to receive the complete schedule of Covid-19 vaccine for protecting oneself against this disease and also to limit the spread of this disease to the close contacts including family members, friends, relatives and co-workers.”
It reiterated that only pre-registered beneficiaries with the health department will be vaccinated in accordance with the prioritisation. “Only after registration, the information on the session site to visit and time will be shared with the beneficiary,” the document said.
Two doses of vaccine, 28 days apart, need to be taken by an individual to complete the vaccination schedule, it stated. After getting all the doses of the vaccine, the beneficiary will receive a text message and a QR code-based certificate on their registered mobile number, informing them about completion of the process.
It, however, advised those infected with the coronavirus to not get vaccinated till they test negative. “Person with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 infection may increase the risk of spreading the same to others at vaccination site,” the ministry added. “For this reason, infected individuals should defer vaccination for 14 days after symptoms resolution.”
Meanwhile, those who have recovered from the disease were advised to get inoculated. “It is advisable to receive complete schedule of Covid vaccine irrespective of past history of infection with Covid-19,” the document said. “This will help in developing a strong immune response against the disease.”
Driving license, health insurance, smart card issued under the scheme of labour ministry, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) job card, official identity cards issued to MPs/MLAs/MLCs, PAN card, passbooks issued by bank, post office, passport, pension document, service ID issued to government employees, and Voter ID would be accepted at the time of registration.
India has recorded more than 99.79 lakh cases of the coronavirus – the second highest in the world – and 1,44,789 people have died of the infection. The Pune-based Serum Institute, Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech and pharmaceutical company Pfizer have applied for emergency use authorisation in India.
The government has not signed a deal for a coronavirus vaccine yet so it is unclear when it will be available for use in the country. It is likely that the Centre may approve some coronavirus vaccines over the next few weeks. The final call on the efficacy of a vaccine will be taken by the Drugs Controller General of India.