The Civil Aviation ministry has told the Union health ministry that the aviation sector's frontline workers should be considered for COVID-19 vaccination on priority basis after health workers have been given the jabs. According to guidelines issued by the health ministry on December 28 last year, around 30 crore Indians will be vaccinated in the first two phases, including around three crore healthcare and frontline workers, and approximately 27 crore people of over the age of 50 years.
The frontline workers mentioned in the December 28 guidelines do not include aviation sector employees but personnel from the armed forces, prison staff, municipal workers, among others are listed.
Pradeep Singh Kharola, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), told his counterpart in the health ministry Rajesh Bhushan in a letter dated January 20, 2021, as per PTI, that the frontline workers in aviation have certain risk elements while performing their duties and they make air transportation a safe mode of transport.
"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.' Recently, airlines and airports had approached MoCA and highlighted the need to vaccinate their staff on a priority basis, albeit once the medical personnel are covered", Kharola mentioned in the letter.
He further said as the airports are also involved in the movement of vaccines, the aviation front line workers should be mentioned in the operational guidelines released on December 28, 2020.
"Considering that the front line workers of airlines and airports are also involved in the movement of vaccines, this MoCA recognizes the merit in the proposal and requests the MoHFW (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) to include front line workers of airlines and airports along with front line workers mentioned in the operational guidelines released on December 28, 2020", he added.
Kharola said that the MoCA would coordinate for enumeration of this personnel to be covered under the vaccination programme If the request is considered favourably. Since the beginning of the pandemic and consequent lockdown, Airlines and Airports have been at the forefront in extending their services to the passengers and movement of cargo within the country and across the borders.
(With PTI Inputs)