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Friday, June 18, 2021

Delhi’s differently abled fear being left out of Covid vaccination net

Ameer Siddiqui (39), founder of Eagle Specially Abled Riders, said there is no option for specially abled people while registering on the CoWin portal

Written by Ashna Butani | New Delhi |
Updated: May 30, 2021 9:49:56 am
Delhi covid vaccine disabled peopleThe Delhi government, meanwhile, is in the process of making arrangements for specially abled persons. (Express Photo)

Ever since Covid vaccination for the 18 plus group began on May 1, Deepanshu Pande’s father has made every effort to get him the shot.

The 20-year-old has Down Syndrome and cannot visit the vaccination centre, said his father Harish.

A lab technologist at a blood bank, Harish has received both doses of the vaccine. His wife had recovered from Covid last year. Afraid that his son would contract the virus, he had tried to take him to a nearby centre in Kalyanpuri but faced several problems.

“It is not possible to take him out because he keeps taking off the mask due to discomfort. He would be more at risk if we took him to a centre,” said Harish.

He added that his son does not have an Aadhaar card despite several attempts to get him one, and his only identification is his birth certificate.

According the FAQ section on the CoWin portal, people can register with any one of the following IDs: Aadhaar card, driving licence, PAN card, passport, pension passbook, NPR Smart card and Voter ID.

Harish said, “Some arrangement should be made for people with similar conditions or the most vulnerable people will be left without vaccination.” The only way his son can get the dose, he said, is if someone arranges the commute to a less-crowded centre or for doorstep vaccination.

Ameer Siddiqui (39), founder of Eagle Specially Abled Riders, said there is no option for specially abled people while registering on the CoWin portal: “Many centres are not wheelchair accessible. If specially abled people could specify their needs while registering, authorities would make the necessary arrangements like assigning an escort or giving instructions in languages that they understand (braille/sign language).”

He added that commuting, even to a centre near home, becomes difficult as not everyone has private vehicles and they cannot travel much in a wheelchair.

Ameer, who has Post Polio Residual Paralysis, has also not been able to get a vaccination slot at a nearby centre yet. “Those of us who have had polio got it as kids because we had a low immunity and did not get vaccinated… since we know we have lower immunity, we are scared of contracting the virus,” he said, adding that many specially abled people have contracted Covid of late.

Sangeeta Bhandari (41), a resident of GTB Nagar, was among those who tested positive mid-April. She has Spinal Bifida, a birth defect where the spinal cord does not develop normally.

Her family was worried as she has a number of complications arising out of her condition, such as kidney and urine problems. “Thankfully, I recovered well. But many others have been trying to register for their first dose — they are either not getting slots or are unable to reach the centres,” said Sangeeta.

The Delhi government, meanwhile, is in the process of making arrangements for specially abled persons. On May 27, AAP MLA Atishi had tweeted, “Visited the Blind Relief Association today. We are looking to collaborate with them to ensure vaccination for the specially abled in Delhi.”

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