All four bank officers' unions have demanded for inclusion of bankers as frontline COVID warriors so that they can be administered the vaccine on a priority basis given their importance in keeping wheels of the economy running.
In a letter written to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, unions said the government is expecting at least two vaccines against COVID-19, Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and Oxford's Covishield, to be available possibly in January 2021; and there is a plan to inoculate the frontline COVID warriors including those working in healthcare, police, sanitary workers, etc.
All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC), All India Bank Officers' Association (AIBOA), Indian National Bank Officers' Congress (INBOC) and National Organisation of Bank Officers (NOBO) have jointly written the letter to the finance minister.
Bankers have been providing yeoman service ever since the announcement of lockdown and have continued to provide required banking services, it said, adding bankers have been instrumental in keeping the wheels of the economy moving despite hazards and constraints.
Despite thousands of bankers having contracted the disease and a huge number of fatalities in the sector caused by the contagion, uninterrupted banking services are being provided by the workforce, it said.
"The role of bankers in facilitating sustained and robust growth by implementing government policies and schemes have been appreciated by the Prime Minister and your good office too, on many occasions for which we express our gratitude," it said.
"In the above backdrop, we request you to use your good offices to get bankers included in the list of frontline workers so that they can be administered the vaccine in a priority manner and workforce can feel appreciated for the services rendered by them during these most difficult and challenging times," it said.
Three leading coronavirus vaccine developers -- Pfizer Inc and AstraZeneca Plc and Bharat Biotech -- have applied for emergency use authorization in India.
While Pfizer India has applied to the drug regulator for permission to import its experimental mRNA vaccine for sale and distribution without the requirement for local clinical trials, Serum Institute of India Ltd, AstraZeneca's India vaccine partner, has applied for emergency use authorisation using data from Phase-III trials that were conducted locally, as well as in Brazil and the UK.
Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech has sought nod for Covaxin which is being indigenously developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
The applications mean that a mass vaccine effort could be shortly underway in a nation that has the world's second-largest coronavirus caseload.