The Most Vulnerable Unable To Access COVID Vaccines

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Published on May 8, 2021 by

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had filed a petition in the Bombay High Court to allow
door to door vaccinations. However, the petition was rejected leaving many without access to the
vaccination.

Sinchita Mitra
06 May 2021

Shikha Banerjee, a 78-year-old resident of Mumbai had to call her son from Kolkata to Mumbai just
to help her get vaccinated. “There are no wheelchair facilities in the centres and no one to drive
me. How could I go alone?” she asked. Due to the unavailability of a ramp, her son had to pick her
wheelchair up and take her to the centre to get the COVID 19 vaccine. “The government said we
are the most vulnerable population, but they haven’t made the system accessible to us,” she said.

However, Mrs Banerjee is not the only person who is facing these challenges. Specially abled,
elderly and bedridden patients are struggling to get the COVID vaccination in Mumbai.

The elderly and specially-abled are finding it hard to travel to the vaccination centres and stand in
the long queues. Most senior citizens have comorbidities and require the COVID vaccination at the
earliest.

Dr Madhushri N., a doctor working with COVID patients said that many people think that since the
elderly are not going out, they can delay the vaccine. “Most people think the elders are not going
out so they are not vulnerable. However, the elders are the one who needs it the most,” she said.
She also added that the virus can be transmitted if even if one is in home isolation. “It can come
from home deliveries, or even from your neighbours. So, it is important that the elderly are
vaccinated at the earliest,” she said.

The Centre for Holistic Development,  an NGO working on accessibilities of COVID vaccinations
listed 132 vaccination centres in Mumbai. However, only two of them have disabled and elderly-
friendly facilities.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had filed a  petition in the Bombay High Court to
allow a door to door vaccinations. The petition claims that over 15 lakh people are unable to get
vaccinated due to lack of accessibility. However, the state government rejected the idea citing
challenges in maintaining COVID protocols and observation of the beneficiary for 30 minutes after
vaccination. They also said that the efficacy of the vaccine will decrease and there will be a
vaccine shortage.

The BMC has now started two drive-in clinics , wherein the specially-abled and the elderly can sit in
their cars and get vaccinated. Kiran Dighavkar, Assistant Commissioner, BMC said that the drive-in
clinics are helping. “We are giving the vaccine in the car and registering them in the car itself. We
have kept these strictly for the specially-abled and senior citizens since there was a demand for
home vaccination,” he said

Sunil Aledia, the founder and CEO of Centre for Holistic Development said that the drive-ins will
only help a little, as the beneficiaries will still need people to drive them to these facilities. “There
should be a pickup and drop facility for people who are immobile,” he said.

He further added that the government can map the number of immobile people in an area and set
up vaccination camps for them. Experts said that the government needs to revamp its vaccination
strategy to make sure everyone has access to it.

The Bombay High Court has also asked the Central government to start door to door vaccinations. The High Court said that if the door to door vaccinations were started earlier, then it could have saved many lives of the senior citizens

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