Updated: June 30, 2021 12:46:35 pm
The Maharashtra government informed the Bombay High Court Wednesday that it won’t be seeking the Centre’s approval for home vaccination of bedridden and immobile persons. The drive will commence on an experimental basis, starting with Pune and subsequently, in other districts, the state said.
The Maharashtra government added that it wanted to inform the court and the petitioner on the conditions for such a drive, and it was open to suggestions and objections.
The state further submitted that the experiment would start today by inviting emails from interested persons on a dedicated email id, announced publicly through print and electronic media.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni was hearing a PIL filed by city-based lawyers, Dhruti Kapadia and Kunal Tiwari, which sought directions for the Centre, state government and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to provide door-to-door vaccination facility for those aged over 75, specially-abled and bedridden.
On Tuesday, June 29, the public health department informed the high court that based on suggestions of the state Covid task force, it desired to propose “home vaccination” for bedridden or immobile persons on an experimental basis. However, when the state government said a proposal would be sent for further approval, the high court questioned why the Centre’s nod was required in the matter.
The state government, on June 22, submitted before the high court draft guidelines drawn up by the task force on door-to-door vaccination and sought time for approval from the state and the Centre.
On June 29, the state submitted an affidavit filed by Dr Dilip Narayan Patil, deputy director of state family welfare bureau, Pune, which enumerated five conditions: home vaccination only for bedridden beneficiaries, a prior certificate from the treating doctor to show beneficiary is immobile, and a doctor to certify that the beneficiary will not face any adverse event following immunisation (AEFI) and be “entirely responsible” to provide appropriate treatment in that case.
The affidavit also stated that a written consent from a family member would be required to receive the jab. At least ten beneficiaries nearby should be made available for vaccination to avoid wastage of vaccine.
On Wednesday, Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni submitted that the state would not seek the Centre’s approval for home vaccination for immobile persons and conduct the drives on a ‘trial and error’ basis. “We will select Pune district to start with,” Kumbhakoni said.
He added, “We have selected Pune only because of the success of previous experiments of drives for students going abroad and also because of the size of the district. It is not too large nor too small. We will implement home vaccination for immobile based on that experience. We will invite suggestions from citizens, and there will be additional conditions that are yet to be crystallised.”
Kumbhakoni added, “This will be extremely urgent. There are some concerns of the administration. But I will discuss that in your (judges) chambers in the petitioners’ presence.”
CJ Datta said, “We hope and trust that you will not insist on the condition that a doctor will have to certify a patient stating the beneficiary is likely to not have AEFI. How can doctors do that? Who will go out of their way to certify? Do not insist on such impracticable conditions.”
Moreover, the bench, referring to news reports on vaccination in Tripura, including one from The Indian Express, said, “There is a news report about the extent of vaccination in Tripura. Over 80 per cent have been vaccinated there. There is another report wherein vaccination is going on in a boat. Is AEFI a serious problem? A 99-year-old woman was vaccinated in a far-off district as per report. Tripura does not have mega facilities. It is a small state in a hilly region. Ask your (state) officers to draw inspiration from this.”
The bench posted a further hearing on the PIL in chambers on Thursday, July 1 at 4 pm and asked the chairperson of the state Covid-19 task force to remain present for the same.
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