Include those residing in DUSIB shelters for homeless in COVID vaccination drive: NGO

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New Delhi, Mar 11 (PTI) A Delhi-based NGO on Thursday urged all district magistrates in the city to include in the COVID-19 vaccination drive all those who reside in shelters for homeless and had been 'unintentionally' left out of the exercise.

In a letter to the district magistrates, the Centre for Holistic Development (CHD) also suggested deployment of 'government approved' volunteers at all DUSIB shelters for homeless for helping occupants register on the Co-WIN website to schedule vaccination appointment and also assist in their transportation to the site.

The second round of the COVID-19 vaccination drive is currently underway, where those above 60 years and individuals in the age group of 45-59 years with comorbidities are eligible to get vaccinated. About 56 Delhi government-run hospitals are administering coronavirus vaccines for free.

'I am writing to draw your attention to the unintended exclusion of old persons and persons with comorbidities (e.g. TB, HIV AIDS) residing in (Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board homeless shelters from inoculation against COVID-19,' CHD executive director Sunil Kumar Aledia wrote in the letter.

He noted that the available process to access the vaccine by first registering on the CO-WIN website, and then finding their way to the vaccination centre or ward at the hospitals, where their documents would be verified, could be challenging for the 'homeless seniors', who are most likely to have very little or no awareness about the process.

'Although this procedure is simple and straightforward for able-bodied persons like us, homeless seniors who often suffer from a host of physical and mental health disabilities can find the process challenging and hard to understand.

'These procedural challenges may be faced by other eligible homeless persons who may be poorly educated,' he said.

To address the issue, the CHD suggested deployment of 'government approved' volunteers or personnel at all homeless shelters, who can help their occupants.

According to Aledia, these volunteers could help 'register eligible persons on the Co-WIN website to schedule the vaccination appointment at a government hospital closest to that particular shelter', and also assist in 'transportation and document verification at the vaccination site on the scheduled date'.

'I would suggest that one caretaker (there are at least two caretakers or helpers present at all times) from each shelter can be provided transportation support so that he/she can take the group of eligible persons from his/her shelter to the vaccination centre,' he wrote. PTI TRS TDS TDS