KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday asked the union government why it cannot allow a person willing to take a paid second dose of Covidshield vaccine before completion of the 84-day gap, especially when it has already allowed those travelling abroad for education and employment purposes to take the second jab after 28 days.
Justice PB Suresh Kumar also directed the union government to file a statement on Wednesday. The court issued the order on a petition by Kitex Garments Ltd, Kochi, seeking a directive to the state government to allow it to administer the second dose of Covishield vaccine to its workers before completion of the 84 day-gap.
When a person needs early protection against the infection and not the maximum protection as intended by the 84-day gap, the person would have to wait for another 54 days. "In between, the person might get infected and nobody could take away the complications developed during the infection. If one felt that the person needs better protection as he/she was in infection-prone areas, why could not the government permit such a person to take the second shot before the completion of the stipulated gap period, especially when he/she was willing to pay from one's pocket?" the court asked. The citizen had absolute freedom whether he wanted to take the shots or not. It was only the question of whether one wanted early protection or better or maximum protection against the infection, the High Court said.
The court also orally observed that the union government had deviated from its stand on the gap period between the two doses of the Covidshield vaccine when it had allowed those who intended to travel abroad for education and employment to take their second shot of Covishield within 28 days of their first jab. Probably, it was done with the advice of the experts.
Advocate Blaze K Jose, counsel for the Kitex, submitted that the union government had allowed a certain class of people to take the second dose of Covidshield within 28 days of the first dose. A person had the choice of whether she should get vaccinated with a paid vaccine or free vaccines given by the government. The stipulation of the 84-day gap could not be made applicable to the paid vaccines. "The medical protocol of the Covishield manufacturer had allowed 28- days gap between the first and second doses. The gap was extended to 84 days because it would give maxim protection against the infection. The narrowing down of the gap did not mean it would not give protection. All the priority category people such as doctors and nurses were taking the second shot within 28 days of the first Covishield jab," he submitted.