Ahead of monsoon session, at least 403 Lok Sabha MPs have taken both jabs
At least 403 members of the Lok Sabha, nearly three-fourth of its current strength of 540, have received both doses of Covid-19 vaccines ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament, said a top functionary of Indian Parliament, raising hopes that next month’s session will not need to be curtailed.
Some members of Parliament (MP) have not been able to take their second jab yet as they contracted Covid-19 after the first dose, the functionary said on condition of anonymity. To be sure, research has shown that people who have had an infection and one dose of the vaccine have very high protection against the virus.
“Another 30 MPs have not sent us any communication. We are trying to contact them to know their vaccination status,” the functionary added.
The pandemic has affected Parliament sessions since March 2020, forcing early closure of last year’s budget and monsoon sessions and this year’s budget session. The 2020 winter session was skipped altogether due to the public health crisis.
The high rate of vaccination among the lawmakers and parliament staff improves chances of a longer parliament session and higher productivity. More than 40 bills and five ordinances are pending before Parliament in a session that comes after the end of a bruising second wave of the pandemic that hit India hard in April and May.
So far, at least 50 lawmakers have been affected by the Covid-19 and at least three MPs, including minister of state for railways Suresh Angadi, died of Covid-19 or Covid- related complications.
The number of Rajya Sabha lawmakers who have received both doses wasn’t immediately available. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla opened a Covid-19 vaccination centre in the Parliament complex in March to cater to the lawmakers, their family and parliamentary officials. The exclusive centre helped in quick vaccination of MPs and the officials to create a safer health environment ahead of the session.
There is still a possibility that people can get the infection despite the jab but the symptoms will be much milder. The vaccines have shown very high efficacy in protecting people from hospitalisation, even when the infection is caused by the new delta strain of the virus.
Top parliament officials said that RT-PCR tests and social distancing norms will remain part of the protocol in Parliament as parts of India continue to report new cases.
“But vaccination will not be mandatory for MPs to attend Parliament. We are encouraging them to take the vaccines and providing them with all facilities,” said the top functionary.
The count of vaccinated MPs include those who got the shots in Parliament as well as other vaccination sites
India has administered 265 million doses of vaccines to 215.6 million people, one of the world’s largest vaccination drives. Apart from the Covishield and Covaxin vaccines that are manufactured in the country, India has also procured stocks of Russian Sputnik V which will be produced in India from the second half of the year.