Covid: Kerala High Court allows early second dose of Covishield
Kerala High Court has allowed a garment manufacturer to administer the second dose of Covishield vaccine it has purchased for its employees without waiting for the 84-day gap since the government had permitted several sections of people to complete their vaccination schedule after 28 days of the first dose.
The court, in its order dated September 3, directed the Union government to make necessary alterations in the CoWIN portal to schedule the second dose four weeks after the first.
Currently, the portal does not accept entry of second shots before the prescribed time period.
But the single bench of Justice P.B. Suresh Kumar said: “I have not considered the question whether a person is entitled to make a choice between early protection and better protection from Covid-19 infection in the matter of accepting the free vaccine provided by the government.”
The petitioner, Kitex Garments Ltd, one of the biggest garment manufacturers in Kerala, had sought permission to administer 10,000 second doses of Covishield it had procured and stored through a private hospital in Ernakulam before 84 days.
Sajeev T.K., general manager of the company based in Kizhakkambalam in Ernakulam district, told The Telegraph on Monday that plans were afoot to start the second dose of vaccination from Tuesday.
“This is a huge relief for us since we have been waiting to get all our employees and their families to get the second dose. While some of them have already taken the second dose since they completed 84 days, a huge majority of them would benefit from this judgment,” he said.
Assistant solicitor-general of India P. Vijayakumar had filed a statement on behalf of the Union government seeking the dismissal of the petition since the “the decision to increase the dose interval of Covishield vaccine was based on scientific evidence and expert opinion as per available efficacy data”.
The court considered the petitioner’s argument that several sections, including students and workers travelling abroad, members of the Indian Olympic team and government officials, were among those who were exempted from the 84-day mandate and allowed to get their second shot of Covishield after four weeks.
The court ruled that the stand taken by the Union government against shortening the gap “cannot be accepted, for, as indicated, the very premise on which the present writ petition is instituted is that the decision of the government in providing relaxation in the protocol regarding administration of second dose of vaccine to certain classes of persons alone amounts to discrimination and the directions sought are directions to extend to the petitioners also the same relief”.
“If the government can permit persons who are intending to travel abroad to exercise a choice between early protection and better protection from Covid-19 infection, there is absolutely no reason why the same privilege shall not be extended to others who want early protection in connection with their employment, education etc.”
The court pointed out that when there was no compulsion on the people to get vaccinated, there was no reason for the government to stop them from taking an early second dose.