Vaccinated Keralite moves HC for ‘third jab’ to keep Saudi job secure

Express News Service

KOCHI: Reflecting the predicament of thousands of expatriates stuck in India, an expat who worked in Saudi Arabia as a welder for the past eight years and received two doses of Covaxin in Kerala, has approached the High Court seeking permission to get re-vaccinated with the internationally-accepted Covishield vaccine. 

Girikumar Thekkan Kunnumpurath, 50, of Sreekandapuram in Kannur, moved the court as Covaxin is not recognised in Saudi Arabia. As per his visa stipulation, he has to return to Saudi Arabia before August 30 or he would lose his job. 

He told TNIE that he was ready to get re-vaccinated as he wanted to secure his job in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. “I have two girls, one pursuing degree and the other in Class X. I have no other source of income to meet their educational expenses,” he said.

However, getting a third dose is not possible at present as there is no option in the CoWIN website to book a slot for it. 

Manas P Hameed, Girikumar’s counsel, said his petition was adjourned to August 9 and the court had sought the Centre’s view on the matter. Girikumar said he returned to India due to the Covid second wave in Saudi Arabia in January. When the Centre provided vaccines for people aged above 45, he registered on the CoWIN portal using his passport details.

He said he got the first Covaxin dose on April 17, and the second a month later. “It was only after receiving Covaxin that I came to know that it is not approved by the Saudi government. Many countries, including Saudi Arabia, consider those who have taken the vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech as unvaccinated. Had the authorities informed the public about the non-recognition of Covaxin earlier, I would not have taken it. I never knew my decision would put my job abroad in jeopardy,” he said. 

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