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The new facility will soon be available on CoWin, said Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya

India will allow its citizens and students to reduce the gap between the second dose and the precautionary dose to below the current 270-day-limit for international travel.

Under the new rules, announced by the Union Minister of Health, Mansukh Mandaviya, citizens and students can take the precautionary dose, also called booster dose, “as required by the guidelines of the destination country”.

The new facility will soon be available on CoWin, the minister announced.

“Indian citizens and students travelling overseas can now take the precaution dose as required by the guidelines of the destination country. This new facility will soon be available on the CoWin portal,” Mandaviya tweeted.

According to aHealth Ministry official, the decision to relax the norms about the precaution dose for overseas travellers was based on recommendations by the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI).

The NTAGI had recommended that those who need to travel overseas can take the precaution dose or the ‘booster shot’ as required by the country they are travelling to before the mandatory nine-month gap.

Till now, all those above 18 years and have completed nine months after the second dose are eligible for booster shot in the country. India, it may be recalled, has started administering booster doses to all aged 18 and above.

Travel players upbeat

Daniel D’Souza, President & Country Head – Holidays, SOTC Travel, said the move is expected to give a fillip to the travel industry ahead of summer vacations and especially for customers planning their holidays to Europe.

The EU countries that have dropped all of their restrictions and now permit entry include Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland.

Some countries like Austria (which accepts vaccination certificates that prove that the holder has completed vaccination in the last 270 days or has received an additional vaccine dose), Belgium (which accepts vaccination certificates if they have been issued in the last six months), Croatia (nine month vaccination certificate), among others, have entry rules in place.

“We saw a strong surge in queries for May-June period by over 200 per cent and our forward bookings are positive with short haul destinations driving key demand. This welcome move (reducing gap between dose 2 and booster shot to less than nine months for international travellers) serves to simplify travel and boosts consumer confidence,” D’Souza said.

EaseMyTrip’s President – External Affairs, Himank Tripathi, said the change in rules are likely to encourage student communities to travel abroad “in large numbers”. “The current sentiments for travel are very positive and the relaxation was much needed to sustain the growth momentum that’s being witnessed,” he said.

Published on May 12, 2022