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.
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, 2021, 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."
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 the PTI.
"Considering that the front line 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 front line workers of airlines and airports along with front line 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 the passengers and movement of cargo within the country and across the borders.