Mumbai: Just because 475 persons have died across India after being vaccinated the central government should not stop the vaccination drive for any age group, remarked the Bombay High Court bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni on Tuesday. The bench has accordingly ordered the Indian government to reconsider its "near the house" vaccination policy and take a step ahead and start door-to-door vaccination.
The bench was dealing with a PIL filed by advocate Dhruti Kapadia seeking directives to the central government to start door-to-door vaccination for senior citizens and bedridden persons as they face several difficulties in reaching the vaccination centers and even for registering for the jab.
When the matter was called out for hearing on Tuesday, Kapadia told the bench that the Union health ministry has filed an affidavit and its crux was that "it doesn't want to go door-to-door but near the house of citizens”.
She cited the paragraph from the affidavit of the health ministry wherein the National Experts Group on Vaccination Administration for Covid (NEGVAC) has given five major reasons for recommending against door-to-door vaccination drive.
The reasons include, Kapadia said, the Adverse Effect Following Immunisation (AEFI), 30 minutes observation protocol, maintaining cold chain and ensuring low wastage, security issues of health care workers from the acute pressure of the community and lastly the apprehension of vaccinators and mobilizers getting infected by virus by going door-to-door.
Kapadia further read out the AEFI details mentioned in the affidavit. "As per the health ministry itself, the Union government has vaccinated approximately 23 crore people. As far as AEFI is concerned a total of 25,309 cases have been reported of which 1,187 were serious cases," she said.
"As per the ministry's record, a total of 475 persons have died after being vaccinated. However, the records doesn't show the exact population," she added. Having heard the submission, the judges appreciated the "efforts" of the Union government to have come up with the "Near Your House" policy. "This is a positive sign. We do appreciate your efforts," Justice Kulkarni said.
However, the bench said that the five reasons given by NEGVAC weren't as serious as being projected. "These aren't serious difficulties at all," Justice Kulkarni remarked. The judges said that the reason of getting infected was vague. "How can you (Union) say this. The risk of getting infected is always there even at vaccination centers. The other reasons can also be overcome," Chief Justice Datta said.
"You have achieved to vaccinate 23 crore people. Has any other country managed to do that?" CJ questioned additional solicitor general Anil Singh. Singh responded in the negative, to which, the chief justice replied, "Then how can you say that you won't vaccinate door-to-door? You have cited the 475 deaths but that shouldn't stop you from vaccinating citizens."
"You just cannot stop vaccination because of these 475 odd deaths. These would be the unfortunate cases but that shouldn't stop you," the chief justice added. The judges, accordingly ordered the NEGVAC to reconsider its decision against door-to-door vaccination drive.