Those with special needs to get dedicated vaccination centres

Updated on Jun 04, 2021 03:32 AM IST

The centres will only vaccinate differently abled people older than 45 years, with senior government officials citing shortage of doses as the reason to exclude the 18-45 age group.

A health worker inoculates a differently abled beneficiary at Shastri Park in New Delhi. (ANI)
A health worker inoculates a differently abled beneficiary at Shastri Park in New Delhi. (ANI)
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The Delhi government has directed all district magistrates (DMs) and chief district medical officers to ensure at least one dedicated vaccination centre for the differently abled in every zone, and to provide walk-in facility to all such beneficiaries.

The centres will only vaccinate differently abled people older than 45 years, with senior government officials citing shortage of doses as the reason to exclude the 18-45 age group.

“In order to facilitate Covid-19 vaccination of persons with disabilities, a decision has been taken for operationalisation of a dedicated Covid-19 vaccination centre (CVC) in each district where facilitated vaccination in walk-in mode, with on-site registration, can be undertaken,” said the order issued by the state health department on Wednesday.

Last week, the Delhi government ordered that dedicated vaccination centres for persons with disabilities be set up in each district, following demands from disability rights activists.

Cheshta Yadav, DM (northwest), said a special vaccination centre has been opened at a community centre of the Delhi Development Authority in Vijay Vihar, Rohini Sector 1. “To get a vaccine shot at such centres, the beneficiary will have to bring a supporting document as proof of disability. These include PwD identify cards or proof of residence in a PwD shelter home, or centre, or any other relevant PwD certificate,” she said.

To ensure a good turnout, the DMs are also roping in NGOs to spread awareness of these centres and provide transportation wherever required. Isha Khosla, DM (north), said she has tasked all sub-divisional magistrates in her district to identify and reach out to such beneficiaries and ensure their safe transportation. “Even at the centre, we have sensitised our officers to be more alert in terms of offering any kind of assistance to those coming to get the jab. We have deployed extra civil defence volunteers to assist beneficiaries on wheelchairs or even in general,” she said.

Ankita Chakravarty, DM (south), said they have opened a centre for people with disabilities at the Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya in Chhatarpur.

“Beneficiaries can drop in between 9am and 5pm from Monday to Saturday,” she said.

The south-east district has identified the school of excellence in Kalkaji as its model PwD centre. “This institute has all the required disabled-friendly infrastructure, such as ramps and markings for visually challenged, so that the vaccination drive can be conducted smoothly,” said a district official.

Muralidharan, general secretary of the NGO, The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled, said in addition to dedicated vaccination centres, it is also crucial to undertake steps aimed at quelling vaccine hesitancy and generating awareness among the differently abled.

However, activists and organisations continue to seek vaccination at home for disabled people since commuting is likely to be a challenge for many. National-level para-athlete Gulfam Ahmed , who is struggling to get vaccinate, said: “There are people who are bedridden due to spinal cord injuries or other issues. Such individuals will not be able to go out for vaccination. The government should consider the possibility of vaccinating these people at home. With mobility issues, it’s not easy to reach vaccination sites located in far-flung areas,” said Ahmed.

Dr Satendra Singh, a disability rights activist and a teacher at DU’s University College of Medical Sciences, said the government could conduct door-to-door vaccination for elderly people and disabled people as the country had done in the case of polio vaccination.

“Whether it’s a separate PWD centre or near a home vaccination centre, both are futile in some cases. A majority of hospitals and centres are not completely accessible to people with severe disability, or those who are old,” said Singh.

With inputs from Sadia Akhtar

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sweta Goswami writes on politics, urban development, transportation, energy and social welfare. Based in Delhi, she tracks government policies and suggests corrections based on public feedback and on-ground implementation through her reports. She has also covered the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) since its inception.

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