PIL for priority to disabled in vaccination; HC seeks stand of Centre, Delhi govt

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New Delhi, May 5 (PTI) A PIL in the Delhi High Court on Wednesday urged it to direct the Centre and Delhi government to treat persons with disabilities (PWD) on priority and make special provisions for vaccinating them against COVID-19 irrespective of their age.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh issued notice to the Ministry of Health and Delhi government on the plea by two disabled persons.

In their plea, filed through advocates Siddharth Seem and Joicy, they have contended that the governments' failure to make any special provision for ensuring priority to PWD in the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine, was a violation of the Constitutional mandate to give preferential treatment to such individuals.

One of the petitioners has Kypho Scoliosis - an abnormal curve of the spine - as well polio left shoulder and is a social activist, while the other has mixed cerebral palsy quadriplegia which has left her with 90 per cent permanent physical impairment.

'The protocols and guidelines for vaccine administration issued by the respondents (Centre and Delhi government) fail to mention the special needs of all persons with disabilities and are, therefore, in violation of the fundamental rights of PWD,' the petition has contended.

The petition has further said that PWD experience higher risk of contracting the virus as they require close contact with others as a result of personal care needs.

'Persons with disabilities experience greater challenges as a result of public health measures such as physical distancing. This can create greater social isolation and interruption of vital, irreplaceable support networks.

'Family members/ care givers are also at risk of contracting the virus from persons with disabilities and vice versa,' the petition has said and added that PWD are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and suffer a higher mortality rate than the general population.

'In such a situation, it is imperative that the administering of COVID-19 vaccine be graded and persons with disabilities be prioritized to protect them against their higher chances of contracting the virus and their higher mortality rate,' the plea has said.

Besides seeking priority in vaccination for PWDs, the plea also seeks that all disabled persons and their caretakers be vaccinated irrespective of their age and free of charge.

The plea also seeks that PWDs and their caretakers be vaccinated without insisting on registration on COWIN app and that vaccination drives be carried out in institutions for abandoned and destitute persons with disabilities run by government and NGOs. PTI HMP SA