NEW DELHI: An association of over 9 lakh chemists on Thursday said that they will shut down their stores during the lockdown if their staff is not given vaccines on priority like it was in the case of healthcare and frontline workers like security personnel.

“The All India Organization of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD), a nationwide organization of 9.40 lakh chemists in India, may anytime join the lock down to protect and save the lives of its members, as they were sidelined while considering vaccination priority,” AIOCD said in a statement.

The association had not resorted to such a move so far because they wanted maintain the availability of medicines during this pandemic, they said.

The chemists association said that their group was not included among frontline workers despite the fact that they come regularly in contact with covid-19 patients at their stores while providing medicines.

Since last year March last year, more than 650 chemists and pharmacists have lost their lives due to covid-19, the association said.

“But now we do not want to put our members in risk and therefore we demand (that the government) vaccinate with priority all 9.4 lakh chemists and pharmacists and support staff, or we will join the regular lockdown followed by other trade members,” the association said.

A similar appeal was also made by the Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMeD) for staff at manufacturers of covid-19 related medical supplies.

AiMeD forum coordinator Rajiv Nath on Wednesday wrote a letter to NITI Aayog member (health) V.K. Paul, who is also the chairman of the Nation Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC), for inclusion of staff at manufacturers of covid-19 related medical supplies in the list of frontline workers and be vaccinated on priority, or, at the very least, allow such expenses to be included in corporate social responsibility activities.

As of now, only security personnel, municipal workers and revenue officials from the government are considered frontline workers. Healthcare and frontline workers as well as people of age over 45 years are considered high priority groups for covid-19 vaccinations as they are highest at risk of contracting the disease.

However, a number of professional groups like chemists, staff of medical devices and drug manufacturing industry, transportation workers, grocery store staff, teachers, among others are not considered frontline workers by the Centre despite their jobs requiring close contact and being essential services.

Although the situation has improved under the Centre’s revised policy which allows vaccination of all adults of age 18 and above, while giving priority to high risk groups, and also allows states more liberty to make their own list of priority groups.

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