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Delhi opens special Covid-19 vaccination centres for the specially-abled

International para-athlete and activist Suvarna Raj who received the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine has written to the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, asking vaccination of specially-abled people at their residences (Pic: Courtesy/Twitter@suvarnapraj)

Keeping in mind the problems faced by the specially-abled in general, the Delhi Government has set up Covid-19 vaccination centres across the Capital.

The dedicated Covid vaccination centres for them have been established in all 11 revenue districts of Delhi. This decision followed demand from several quarters for making vaccination accessible on a priority basis by the specially-abled activists in the Capital.

In fact the order was issued by the office of the Divisional Commissioner Revenue, after a notice was issued by the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (PwD).

An Indian Express report mentions the letter from the Divisional Commissioner to all the District Commissioners last week. It says: “A notice has been received from the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (SCPWD) wherein it is requested to make a separate centre at least one in each district for the vaccination of Persons with Disabilities on priority basis.”

Care has been taken to set most of these centres in Government schools run by the Delhi Administration, in particular those, which are equipped with resources and have better infrastructure than others.

Citing an example of this selection – the South East District designated vaccination centre in the School of Excellence, Kalkaji, the district’s DM, Vishwendra says: “It was selected as the site since it is one of the best schools in the area and already has the required disability friendly infrastructure such as ramps, markings for the visually challenged and so on, so that there can be barrier-free vaccination.”

Likewise in Shahdara district, the designated centre is Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya, Surajmal Vihar, which is operational from today.

The school’s principal, Dr. Rajpal Singh told Indian Express: “There will be one vaccination site in the school, meaning that one person can be vaccinated at a time. Spreading the word and creating awareness about this site will be the responsibility of the district administration. We will be organising the logistics. People can register for the vaccine at the site itself.”

In view of the vaccine shortage, a number of centres have decided to give the jab to those specially-abled persons who are above 45 years.

Even though many activities feel that this is a step in the right direction, several have pointed out the problem of transportation that the specially-abled persons will encounter. Also they have expressed concern about the bed-ridden specially-abled.

Activist Abha Khetarpal said: “The arrangement is better than nothing, but there are many people who won’t even be able to go to the centre. Transport itself isn’t accessible. What about people with Parkinson’s Disease, those who are bedridden, or have severe disabilities with mobility issues? We have the example of polio vaccination, which happened door-to-door.”

In Tamil Nadu, among the initiatives taken by the Government to encourage vaccination against Coronavirus, the Government has decided to have separate counters for those with special needs.

This was instructed by the Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine in a notification to all Deputy Directors of the Health Services and the Chennai City Medical Officers at the Greater Chennai Corporation.

The notification asked them to set up separate counters for specially-abled people and where that was not possible to give them first priority when they come to the vaccination centre.

Moreover, it was instructed that this arrangement should be evident and visible at every centre to make sure that such persons don’t have to wait and further these counters should have ramps and slopes etc.

In fact, the Government has also provided the facility for specially-abled to get registered on 18004250111 and 9700799993 whereby they are allotted the time and place of vaccination.

In a Press release it was also stated that: “In the case of persons with disabilities who cannot leave their home, arrangements have been made to vaccinate them at their place. They can register their names through the above numbers. Medical officials and nurses will visit their place to study the situation. They will be vaccinated at their place.”

Meanwhile, Kerala Government through a notification has categorised specially-abled as frontline workers to enable them to get vaccinated on a priority basis.

Interestingly, in a number of High Courts in States, the issue of vaccinating the specially-abled is being heard while the judges have asked the Governments concerned to inform them of the steps to be taken in this regard.