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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Bombay HC asks Centre’s expert panel to decide on door-to-door vaccination policy by June 1

This comes a day after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) told the HC that it is unable to carry out a door-to-door vaccination drive in Mumbai as the Union government has not come up with a policy for it.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
Updated: May 21, 2021 1:41:33 am
All wheelchairs being occupied, a police officer assists a senior citizen arriving for vaccination at Nurses Training Centre in Thane on Thursday. (Express Photo by Deepak Joshi)

The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed an expert committee set up by the Union government to consider introducing door-to-door vaccination drive and decide by June 1 whether the elderly and the disabled, who cannot visit vaccination centres, can be administered doses at home.

This comes a day after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) told the HC that it is unable to carry out a door-to-door vaccination drive in Mumbai as the Union government has not come up with a policy for it. A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni said that it was disappointed and disheartened by the Union government’s “insensitivity” at not considering a policy for such people and also at the stand taken by BMC.

The bench was hearing a PIL filed by Mumbai-based lawyers Dhruti Kapadia and Kunal Tiwari, seeking directions to the Centre, the Maharashtra government and the BMC, to provide door-to-door vaccination facility to those aged above 75, the specially-abled and the bedridden.

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the Union government, told the court that the Centre has come up with guidelines to be followed by states regarding advanced planning for vaccination.

To this, the HC said: “These are for people who can reach the vaccination centres… What about those who cannot? Where is your advisory for them?”

As Singh submitted that precautions have to be taken to ensure there are no adverse effects after a dose is administered and hence, door-to-door vaccination has not been considered, the court sought to know if any data has been compiled on such effects.

Referring to data submitted to the Lok Sabha, which showed that vaccines have negligible adverse effects, the HC said: “Show us if there is any reference to a single death. You are leaving the elderly to choose between the devil and the deep sea, asking them to die of Covid or of co-morbidities.”

When asked if the National Expert Group for Vaccine Administration of Covid-19 (NEGVAC) – set up by the Centre – had considered door-to-door vaccination, Singh said that he will personally speak with its chairman on the willingness to reconsider and revisit certain guidelines. “Please convey to them that they should have an intention to reach out to all people and not confine themselves to the able-bodied. We want them to give this proper consideration to this,” the court said, asking NEGVAC members to meet and decide on the issue by June 1. “We only wish to observe that no segment of the society should feel neglected, while the nation marches ahead to vaccinate its citizens, and in the likely event of the NEGVAC deciding in favour of door-to-door vaccination for the elderly and disabled citizens, such policy may be circulated for implementation by the states without waiting for the orders of this court,” it added.

The court will hear the case next on June 2.

Don’t make elderly wait at vaccination centres: HC

While hearing a PIL on vaccines, the Bombay High Court said on Thursday that steps should be taken to ensure that elderly citizens are not made to wait at vaccination centres. “The BMC must make an honest endeavour to ensure elderly citizens are not made to wait at vaccination centres and that immediate steps are taken to vaccinate them after they reach the centres,” the court said.

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