Policy reversal: Employers can now vaccinate family members of staff

NEW DELHI: Reversing its earlier policy, the government has allowed private and state entities to vaccinate not just employees but even dependent family members.
The fresh advisory to states, issued Friday, came after companies and industry bodies took up the issue with the ministry of health and family welfare, arguing limiting vaccination against Covid-19 only to employees was not going to help the process. Companies received the communication on Saturday.
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Several companies, both in the public and private sector, had already lined up vaccination programme for their employees and their family members.
While the May 19 advisory was seen to be holding back the vaccination drive, Friday’s letter said that the clarifications followed several queries and were meant at “further accelerating” the inoculation process.
Now, the government has allowed family members and dependents – as defined by the employer – be covered under the programme at industrial and workplace Covid Vaccination Centres (CVC). This means that the employee, spouse, their children, parents, in laws and other dependents allowed by companies in their internal policies can be vaccinated at these centres.
Employers have been advised to procure the vaccines from hospitals with whom they may have tied up.
Further, at government CVCs, beneficiaries who are 45 years or more can be vaccinated for free through the doses supplied by the Centre or the state governments. Beneficiaries in the 18-44 years bracket can be covered through doses directly procured by the states, the health ministry said.
Allowing employers to vaccinate employees was a key feature of the liberalised programme put in place from May. In fact, companies and industry chambers were surprised by the ban on vaccinating family members as the Centre and the state government had earlier reached out to them to also reach out to communities around their factories or mines.
An industry chamber and its members have identified close to 50 lakh such beneficiaries, who can now hope to get vaccinated.

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