Pakistan opens vaccination for people above 18 years pursuing work or study abroad

pakistan vaccine vials sinopharm covid
A health worker counts used vials of Sinopharm’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, at a vaccination centre in Karachi, Pakistan April 28, 2021. Image Credit: Reuters

Islamabad: All Pakistani citizens 18 years and above who are planning to travel abroad for work or study can now get vaccinated, according to the latest health ministry notification.

As vaccination certificates have become a mandatory travel document around the world, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has allowed COVID-19 vaccination “to facilitate those Pakistanis who are working abroad on work visa (other than Pakistanis having dual citizenship), students studying abroad and registered seafarers.”

Pakistan’s government has extended vaccination to a wider age group after receiving a significant number of requests from people who wanted to travel abroad for work and study.

Pakistan on Friday reported 3,070 new cases in the past 24 hours. The death toll from COVID-19 crossed 20,000 after 102 more people lost their lives to the virus during the past day.

Vaccination procedure for 18+ people

Pakistanis eligible for vaccination under one of the three categories (work, study, seafarer) can walk into any vaccination centre across the country and show their work visa or iqama or study visa along with their valid passport to get vaccinated. The vaccination certificate can be obtained from the National Database and Registration Authority website (NADRA) website or office.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis have been asked to share the guidelines with the missions abroad to inform the citizens. Ministry of Maritime Affairs will inform the seafarers while the Ministry of Education will update the students going abroad about the process.

Guidelines

The notification emphasised that clinical guidelines for age limitation of vaccination issued by the health ministry “should not be violated in any circumstances.” It recalled that AstraZeneca can only be offered to people aged 40 and above. However, Sinopharm, Cansino and Sinovac are offered to all those 18 years and above. In Pakistan, the duration between two vaccine doses is 12 weeks for AstraZeneca, three weeks for Sinopharm, and four weeks for Sinovac, according to the health ministry.

Citizens voice concerns

Soon after the notification was shared on social media, many Pakistanis raised concerns saying that the vaccines approved in Pakistan are different from the ones certified in other countries which may delay their travel. Saudi Arabia – a major destination for the Pakistani workforce – has approved only Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines for visitors which is worrying many Pakistanis. “Out of these four, only AstraZeneca is available in Pakistan but this vaccine is only restricted to 40+ people. What about young people like me who have a job offer in Saudi Arabia?” asked Ahmed Mustafa as many echoed similar concerns on social media.