As the two Telugu-speaking states have several students pursuing education abroad, and a large number of people working in the US, it is not uncommon for parents from here to visit their children, making availability of a Covid vaccine dose in India a challenge for such persons, most of them crossed the age of 60. (Representational image: PTI)
HYDERABAD: The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) officials seem to be confused over providing the third dose of Covid-19 vaccine to those people who got the first two doses in a foreign country and now have come back.
The staff of the civic body, who are entrusted with administering the Covid-19 vaccine, had a tough time when a couple - S. Giridhar, 65, and his wife – turned up for the third dose after getting the first two doses in the USA when they were on a visit to that country. They received two shots of the Moderna vaccine which is not approved for use in India, and hence not available.
The vaccination staff of the GHMC told the couple there were currently no guidelines to give precaution doses to people who had taken Covid vaccines other than Covaxin or Covishield.
Saraswathi Mopuru, MD of Optimist Healthcare India, who had taken two doses of the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine in London, UK, is now in India and also sought to get the precaution dose as approved for all frontline workers by the Central government. However, due to confusion among doctors, she has decided to wait till she returns to London to take a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine again.
As the two Telugu-speaking states have several students pursuing education abroad, and a large number of people working in the US, it is not uncommon for parents from here to visit their children, making the availability of a Covid vaccine dose in India a challenge for such persons, most of them crossed the age of 60.
Like Giridhar and Saraswathi, several others who had vaccines abroad, now cannot get a precaution dose in India as the government does not have any guidelines on it. Doctors say there are enough studies to show that mixing MRNA vaccines like Moderna or Pfizer with vector vaccines like Covishield will yield good results, but if people take a Covishield dose in India as their precaution shot, it will be registered as the first dose of the vaccination sequence, and not the third.
Medical superintendent of Gandhi Hospital Dr Raja Rao, when asked about such situations, said, "As a doctor, my personal advice to these people would be that they can take the Indian vaccines."
Infectious disease specialist at Apollo Hospitals Dr Sangeetha Nareddy said, "The Indian government won’t form guidelines on Moderna as the government needs Indian data to say it works well with Covishield. However, nobody is stopping people who have taken Moderna to take Covishield, but it will be recorded as the first dose, and not a booster dose," Dr Nareddy said.
Dr Kiran Madhala, HoD, critical care medicine, Nizamabad Medical College, said studies by WHO had shown that taking mRNA vaccines (Moderna, Pfizer) followed by vector vaccines (Covishield) had, in fact, higher efficacy than taking two doses of vector vaccines.
However, president of Infection Control Academy of India Dr Ranga Reddy Burri said the Indian government’s policy was to give homologous vaccines, i.e., same as the primary vaccine.