The photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his statement on Covid vaccination certificates are meant to reinforce the message to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour even after inoculation, the government told the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. The written response of junior health minister Bharati Pravin Pawar came amid huge opposition criticism that started before a string of assembly elections held earlier this year.
The Opposition had alleged that the move to PM's photo was self-promotion and projection ahead of the elections and was just a political move. Several opposition-ruled states including Punjab, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh even removed the photo from the certificates they issued.
At a time when the states were in charge of procuring vaccines some leaders even said the Centre was taking credit for the states' efforts.
The Centre has since taken charge of procuring the vaccines across the country, barring in private hospitals. States, though, are still in charge of administering the vaccines.
On Tuesday, the health ministry was asked whether it was necessary and compulsory to print photographs of the Prime Minister on the Covid vaccination certificate.
"Given the context of the pandemic, its evolving nature and the fact that following of Covid-appropriate behaviours has emerged as one of the most critical measures for preventing the spread of disease. The photograph along with the message of the Prime Minister in the vaccination certificates reinforces the message for creating awareness about the importance of following COVID-19 appropriate behaviour even after vaccination, in the larger public interest," Ms Pawar said in her written reply.
She said it is the "moral and ethical responsibility" of the government to ensure that such critical messages reach the people and remain effective.
The government's also response added that the formats of the vaccination certificate from the CoWIN app is standardised and conform to the evolving guidelines of the World Health Authority.
"The format of vaccination certificate, compliant with WHO norms for vaccination certificates, including the message and presentation about the importance of following Covid-appropriate behaviour even after vaccination, has been decided keeping all these factors in consideration.