India: Vaccine Shortage in Telangana Worry Students in Pursuing Their Study Dreams Overseas

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Indian students worry that they might not make it in time for their classes as they struggle to have their COVID-19 vaccinations. With the current surge happening in India, the ones in the priority list are being served first. The Telangana government has already instructed private hospitals to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to individuals 18–45 years old. Unfortunately, the process has been slow and students are afraid that they won’t have two doses completed prior to the Fall semester in the US and Canada.

In the US and Canada, institutions have made it mandatory to have completed two-dose or single-dose COVID-19 vaccines prior to the start of classes. In American University in Washington, D.C.,even if students overseas have completed a COVID-19 vaccination series not approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), they must still get an FDA-authorized vaccine series before they can attend their academic programs.

Government officials in Telangana have announced that vaccine inoculation for the 18–45 age group will not start until July, making it impossible for students such as Abhilash TM, who has already secured a master’s programme seat in North Arizona University. Two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will not be completed right in time when classes start.

Aside from the shortage of vaccines, students are also confused on which vaccine to take because each country has a specific list of approved COVID-19 vaccines. If it’s not in the list, they will have to find a way to comply with the institution’s requirements, which is close to impossible. 

Covaxin, which is developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research, is one of those vaccines not in the list of most institutions in the US and Canada. It is also not WHO-approved. Even if Indian students have completed Covaxin shots, they will not be allowed to study in any of the campuses in the US and Canada. Students may take Covishield, but the government has advised them of a mandatory 12–16 weeks gap between the two doses. 

“We are still awaiting clarity on whether we will be allowed to take the vaccine in Canada or the US. If they decided to prioritise vaccines for their own citizens first, we will be in a fix,” said Sampath Chowdary, a B.Tech graduate from Vijayawada, who has already secured a spot in Georgian College.

Since US institutions are independent on their decisions about the COVID-19 situation and knowledgeable about India’s situation, students will have to wait on the best solution to this in the upcoming weeks.

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