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Pune: High cost in private sector, unavailability at govt centres keeps domestic workers away from vaccine

While most domestic workers have resumed their work, their access to vaccination is still a challenge.

Written by Parthasarathi Biswas | Pune |
Updated: May 27, 2021 3:42:49 am
With a majority of women in the age group of 18 to 45 years, getting the jab has become as tough as others in this age group. (PTI Photo/Representational)

For over two lakh domestic workers in and around Pune, the Covid-19 vaccine is an elusive commodity due to high cost in the private sector and unavailability at most government vaccination centres. Due to this, only a low percentage have been able to get the jab.

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, domestic workers have faced multiple challenges in terms of employment as well as healthcare. In the first lockdown last year, many were barred from entering housing societies and many others lost their jobs. During the second lockdown that started in April, the sector was assured that it will be financially supported besides more being given more ration under the public distribution system.

While most domestic workers have resumed their work, their access to vaccination is still a challenge. Kiran Moghe of Janwadi Mahila Sanghatana said the high cost of vaccines in private sectors and the difficulty in getting the jab under the government had made it difficult for domestic workers to get vaccinated. “Over the past few years, the age profile of the domestic worker has changed. Unlike in the past, when it was the middle-aged 45 and above group that were into domestic work, this time around it is younger women, aged 18 and above, who are taking up domestic work,” she said, adding that this was mainly due to the absence of other kinds of work available for women.

With a majority of women in the age group of 18 to 45 years, getting the jab has become as tough as others in this age group. While slots for this age group fill up in no time on CoWIN, vaccination for this category is yet to open at government centres, where it is available for free. The issue is also compounded by the fact that one dose costs Rs 900.

Moghe, whose union has been working with domestic workers for many years, said after lockdown, many domestic workers saw their earnings dip. “Unlike in the past, when a woman worked at, say eight to 10 houses, now it’s only one to two households. Thus, it will not be feasible to appeal to their employers to finance their shots,” she said.

Moghe also said she and other unions conducted extensive outreach campaigns among domestic workers to remove vaccine hesitancy and, now, when most workers were ready to take their shot, the vaccine was unavailable for most.

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