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Consider vaccinating aviation sector after health workers: aviation ministry tells health ministry

The frontline workers mentioned in the health ministry's guidelines on vaccination does not include aviation sector employees

January 24, 2021 / 11:19 AM IST
Representative image: AP

Representative image: AP

Frontline workers in the aviation sector should be considered for COVID-19 vaccination on priority basis after health workers have been given the jabs, the civil aviation ministry has told the Union health ministry.

As per the guidelines issued by the health ministry on December 28 last year, initially around 30 crore Indians will be vaccinated, including around three crore healthcare and frontline workers, and approximately 27 crore people of over the age of 50 years.

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The frontline workers mentioned in the December 28 guidelines does not include aviation sector employees but personnel from the armed forces, prison staff, municipal workers, among others.

In a letter dated January 20, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), Pradeep Singh Kharola told his counterpart in the health ministry Rajesh Bhushan: "You will agree with me that the crew, engineers, technicians, ground staff, frontline workers in aviation have certain risk elements while performing their duties in a most diligent manner and make air transportation a safe mode of transport."

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Recently, airlines and airports had approached MoCA and highlighted the need to vaccinate their staff on priority basis, albeit once the medical personnel are covered, Kharola mentioned in the letter, which has been accessed by PTI.

Also read: A pilot and aviation safety expert talks about volunteering for phase 3 trial of Chinese vaccine Sinopharm

"Considering that the frontline workers of airlines and airports are also involved in movement of vaccines, this MoCA recognizes the merit in the proposal and requests the MoHFW (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) to include frontline workers of airlines and airports along with frontline workers mentioned in the operational guidelines released on December 28, 2020," he added.

If the request is considered favourably, MoCA would coordinate for enumeration of these personnel to be covered under the vaccination programme, Kharola noted.

He said airlines and airports have been in forefront in extending their services to passengers and movement of cargo within the country and across the borders.
PTI
first published: Jan 24, 2021 11:02 am

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