Nris and Sputnik beneficiaries can no longer get boosters | Pune News

PUNE: Thousands of NRIs, who have returned to India after taking Covid vaccines other than Covishield or Covaxin, now face a unique problem: they cannot get the precautionary doses.
Even those who have taken the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is Covishield in India, are in trouble as their details are not on CoWIN.
Sumit Sachdeva, a professional from Mumbai, said: “My mother was in Australia last year when she received two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. She then returned to India and is now due to receive her precautionary dose. But when we visited a local hospital, we were told she couldn’t get any as there was no way to register on CoWIN the doses she took in Australia.”

Sachdeva said her mother-in-law, too, who left Canada for India (where she received the Pfizer vaccine last year), is unable to get a booster. “She is due to receive the precautionary dose but cannot take it as heterologous boosters are not allowed in India. Both are over 72 and need the booster as cases have increased,” Sachdeva said.
Heterologous schedules allow a different vaccine to be given as a follow-up. But India only allows homologous doses, which means the precautionary vaccine should be the same vaccine as the first series.
Internal medicine specialist Sanuj Thomas said his parents took Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines abroad last year. “Their vaccination certificates are from a foreign country and cannot be used to get a booster in India. Some 10 months have passed since their last vaccination. The government should find a solution.” A senior Health Ministry official said it would not be possible to import foreign vaccines for a set of beneficiaries.
“India has a homologous precautionary dose policy. Additionally, we can only give precautionary doses of vaccines that are currently part of our immunization schedule,” the official said.
He added, however, “The ministry has received inquiries from beneficiaries on this. And the issue may soon be discussed by senior officials. a workaround”.
Those who have taken Sputnik are also struggling to get boosters. The Russian vaccine had hit private hospitals in Pune in July last year. And because it’s a two-dose schedule given 21 days apart, recipients will need to receive a Sputnik booster by the end of April.
But there was no update from the Ministry of Health on the precautionary doses of Sputnik V. Data from the Maharashtra health department showed that nearly 1.29 lakh people who took two doses of Sputnik should soon be eligible for the precautionary dose.
Professional working in Pune, Kevin Bhonde, who took Sputnik V last year, said he was to receive a precautionary dose on Wednesday. “But I did not receive an SMS alert from CoWIN. I was not able to make an appointment for a precaution on the system.”

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