While the new academic sessions start, many colleges and universities in the United States have directed their students to get vaccinated against Covid-19. However, does that mean that you can take any vaccine available in India right now? Probably not, as a few students vaccinated with Covaxin and Sputnik V have been asked to get re-vaccinated in the US. It turns out that many universities in the US are not recognising vaccines that are not on the World Health Organization emergency use list. Sputnik V and Covaxin are yet to receive WHO approval. But here’s everything you need to know if you are an Indian student travelling abroad.
Do Students From India Require Vaccine Certificates To Enter USA?
Indian students will not require COVID-19 vaccine certificates to enter the United States. The announcement was made by Don Heflin, the Minister Counsellor for Consular Affairs at the US Embassy in New Delhi. The US embassy said in a release, “Student visas remain a top priority for the U.S. Mission to India and we are making every attempt to facilitate student travel in time for the fall semester.”
The U.S. Mission to India is opening July and August student visa appointments at posts across India on June 14, 2021. Students may visit our website, https://t.co/ge5EeIRsKI, to view availability and schedule an appointment. Read more: https://t.co/qDtLHwHN4a
— U.S. Embassy India (@USAndIndia) June 10, 2021
Did The US Universities Make Vaccination Mandatory?
Till now, no country has made vaccination mandatory for entry but there are university-specific rules. And while these rules are primarily designed for domestic students, they will affect students from India as well. The concept of a vaccine passport for hassle-free international travel is still at a very nascent stage and India has recently expressed its objection to such discriminatory ideas.
Under the current Presidential Proclamation, student visa holders are able to enter the United States if their classes start on or after August 1, 2021. We are unfortunately unable to approve exceptions for F visa holders with a program start date before August 1, 2021.
— U.S. Embassy India (@USAndIndia) May 4, 2021
Is The Government Offering Priority Vaccines To Students Travelling Abroad?
Indian states such as Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana have announced priority vaccination for students who are travelling abroad for studies. These centres in Mumbai are vaccinating students travelling abroad on a priority basis. Apart from BMC in Mumbai, Pune Municipal Corporation is conducting special drives for students and those who have foreign travel scheduled.
18-44 y/o students planning to travel out of India to pursue higher education can get their shots at Rajawadi, Cooper and Kasturba on Mon, Tues and Wed (walk ins)
— माझी Mumbai, आपली BMC (@mybmc) June 6, 2021
What About Students Who Will Have To Wait For Their Second Dose Of Vaccination?
Right now, there are two issues with the vaccination of foreign-bound travellers. One is whether they should be given Covaxin as it is not on the WHO emergency list. And the second is that Cowin does not allow the booking of the second slot before 12 weeks. The gap between first and second does is huge for those taking Covishield. For now, the government is suggesting students flying three months later to get the vaccination without further ado so that they can be fully vaccinated in good time. Every Travel Enthusiast In India Should Only Take This Vaccine.
📢 Kind Attention!
Indian students studying abroad but stuck in India due to COVID-19 and related issues can get in touch with the OIA-II Division at @MEAIndia.
➡️ Visit https://t.co/unwYpe26PN to know more!
— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) June 5, 2021
Should Students Travelling To The US Take Only Covishield?
The WHO has not added Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin to its emergency list. That said, the vaccine is expecting to get WHO approval by September. Since Covishield is already added to the WHO emergency list, it can be a safer option to get vaccinated with the latter. Recently, US colleges ordered students who took India’s Covaxin & Russia’s Sputnik V to get re-vaccinated.
Traveling within the U.S.? If you are fully vaccinated for #COVID19, you do NOT need to get tested or self-quarantine. You should still follow all other #travel recommendations. Learn more: https://t.co/sohmghhLrq pic.twitter.com/00xbEKYc4J
— CDC Travel Health (@CDCtravel) April 30, 2021
For all updated information on rules and regulations for travelling to the US, watch out for this space.