Centre said it is planning a Covid vaccine programme for senior citizens and specially-abled people
The Centre told the Bombay High Court on Tuesday that a door-to-door COVID-19 vaccination programme for senior citizens, specially-abled, bed-ridden and wheelchair-bound people is currently not possible, but it has decided to start "near-to-door" inoculation centres.
The Union government in its affidavit filed in the high court said the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration (NEGVAC) has considered the issue of door-to-door vaccination and opined that "near-to-door" vaccination would be an appropriate solution, and not door-to-door vaccination.
The court noted that almost 25 crore people have been vaccinated in India.
"Which other country has been able to do so with so much population. The government can do this (door-to-door vaccination) too. You (government) need to find your own way," Chief Justice Dipankar Datta said.
A division bench of Chief Justice Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni last month directed the NEGVAC to consider if door-to-door vaccination programmes can be started for senior citizens, specially-abled people and those who are wheelchair-bound or bed-ridden.
The order was passed in a public interest litigation filed by two lawyers Dhruti Kapadia and Kunal Tiwari raising concerns over how several people would not be able to travel to the vaccination centres.
The Centre in its affidavit filed on Tuesday said the issue was discussed by the NEGVAC in its meeting on May 25.
"All the members/experts, who participated in the meeting, unanimously agreed that the COVID-19 vaccine cannot be given at home due to issues and risks cited by the expert committee," it said.
However, the NEGVAC agreed that since the elderly and specially-abled people have limited mobility, there is a need to increase access by bringing the vaccination services closer to such communities while maintaining all necessary precautions and safety measures.
The affidavit said the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare formulated standard operating procedures (SOPs) related to the 'Near to Home Vaccination Centres' on May 27.
These vaccination sessions can be conducted in non- health facilities and will be linked to an existing COVID-19 vaccination centre, it said.
The high court noted that while it appreciates the efforts taken by the committee and the Union government, the concerns raised by the panel on why door-to-door vaccines cannot be started do not seem to be very serious.
"The concerns raised by the expert committee on why door-to-door vaccination cannot be started are not very serious. These can be overcome if the government wishes to," it said.
The court noted that the risks the committee mentioned for door-to-door vaccination will be there at the inoculation centres as well.
The Centre's affidavit claimed that till May, 25,309 cases of adverse reaction after vaccination were reported out of which 1,186 were serious. "475 deaths were reported following COVID-19 vaccination till May 28, 2021," it said.
The court will continue hearing the matter on Wednesday.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)