Reconsider policy of not vaccinating at home: Bombay HC to Centre

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Mumbai, Apr 22 (PTI) The Bombay High Court on Thursday asked the Union Government to reconsider its stand that door- to-door COVID-19 vaccination was not feasible, saying it must consider the plight of old people and the disabled.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni said the government cannot just 'leave old people to die'.

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had on Wednesday informed the court that door-to-door vaccination was not possible due to various reasons including the possibility of contamination and wastage of vaccine.

The Centre's reply came in response to a public interest litigation filed by lawyers Dhruti Kapadia and Kunal Tiwari.

The PIL sought door-to-door vaccination programme for senior citizens above the age of 75, the specially abled persons and those who are bed-ridden or wheelchair-bound.

The high court said there are many elderly people and others who cannot move out of house due to illness.

'Don't close the chapter saying it is not possible.

This ought not to be the policy. The Union Government will have to give a relook to its policy and do something for the elderly people.

'The policy needs a relook by experts. You cannot leave old people to die,' Chief Justice Datta said.

The judges also noted that in Indian culture children and elderly people are given priority.

'Both the children and elderly people are not in a position to function independently so we have to take care of them,' Justice Kulkarni said, adding that vaccine is the only certain way of ending the pandemic.

The court also cited the example of Israel where the majority of population has been vaccinated, and Los Angeles in the United States where people are being vaccinated while sitting in their cars.

'They do not even have to go into the vaccine centre.

We also need to advance ourselves,' Justice Kulkarni said.

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh argued that many senior citizens suffer from serious ailments and they must be kept under medical observation for half an hour after they get the jab.

This was not possible in a door-to-door drive, he said.

The court said some middle way must be found, as such people with co-morbidities need the vaccine all the more.

The HC also sought to know about the vaccine availability in Maharashtra.

Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni said the present stock will last only three or four days, but it would be replenished soon.

The court said people should be intimated whether the vaccine is available at a particular centre so that they do not travel in vain.

'Centralised information has to be available.

Otherwise it will be like the Mumbai floods where a person sitting in south Mumbai has no idea what the situation is in the suburbs and ends up travelling there and getting stuck in water for hours,' Justice Kulkarni said.

The next hearing will be on May 6. PTI SP KRK KRK