Sprint legend PT Usha on Monday requested Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to vaccinate athletes of the state who are taking part in the upcoming National Inter-State Championships, an Olympic qualifying event to be held from June 25 to 29. The 56-year-old Usha, who won 11 medals in the Asian Games, including four gold ones in the 1986 edition, said that sportspersons should not be ignored in the vaccination process.
"A humble request to @CMOKerala to vaccinate sports persons, their coaches, support staff & medical team, who will participate in the forthcoming National & other competition on priority," Usha tweeted. "We just can't ignore the sports section!" she added.
The National Inter-State Championships, to be held in Patiala, will be the last chance for the Indian athletes to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. The deadline for Olympics qualification for athletics is June 29.
India’s vaccination policy for athletes has kept its focus on the Olympic-bound group so far with most of them inoculated with at least the first dose.
A Kerala government order in May said that 32 categories got added as front line workers for prioritisation for vaccination. However this did not include sports people.
In May, when vaccination began for the 18 to 44 age group, the state government gave priority to those who have co-morbidities. Last week, Health Minister Veena George said in a release that those in the age group of 40 to 44 were now exempted from this criterion, and everyone aged 40 or above would be eligible for vaccination. Later Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that everyone aged 40 or above would be vaccinated with the first dose by July 15 with the 38 lakh doses the state would receive this month. There are 50 lakh people above the age of 45 who have not received the first dose yet, he said.
(With PTI input)