Updated: July 26, 2021 1:04:52 pm
The last 18 months have caused great emotional strain to the expats who have had a tough time travelling to India and meeting their loved ones during the Covid-19 pandemic. Swagat Banerjee, 28, counts himself lucky that he managed to cremate his mother, who had died of dengue-related complications in June, according to rituals. However for him to return to Singapore, where he is employed, he needed to get fully vaccinated.
“This is where I encountered the humane side of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). I got my first Covishield shot on June 10 in Pune. While the stipulated 84-day period would have been too long a stay for me, the PMC initiative towards free vaccination for students, professionals and sports persons going abroad has been a helping hand for many like me,” Swagat told The Indian Express.
Swagat, who got his second dose of Covishield on July 8, is one of the 1240 professionals who have benefitted from the PMC’s special vaccination drive for people set to travel abroad. So far, 5861 beneficiaries have availed this free vaccination at Kamla Nehru hospital. Among these, 4163 have been fully vaccinated and 1700 partially. Of these, 2918 are students and four are part of the Indian contingent at Tokyo Olympics, civic officials said.
Across India, state governments are vaccinating people bound to travel abroad as a special category. In June, The Centre asked the state governments to administer the second dose of Covishield to people undertaking international travel for education or employment before completion of the currently mandated minimum interval of 84 days from the date of the first dose.
Also, the CoWIN portal introduced an option enabling users to link their vaccination certificates to their passport numbers last month. This move has come as a big relief to those Indians who need to furnish their vaccination details before travelling abroad.
Swagat, who is associate director at ASEAN for an NYSE-listed entity, said the CoWin application is more advanced than the ones in Singapore. “I got vaccinated earlier than my peers back in Singapore who were placed in a penultimate category, after vulnerable groups and local citizens. They were amazed and shocked,” said Swagat, who now waits for Singapore to allow resumption of flights from India.
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