A division bench of the Bombay High Court, comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G.S. Kulkarni on Tuesday expressed satisfaction over the home vaccination guidelines issued by the state government’s task force.
Government lawyer Shastri said: “In deference to the order of June 14, members of the State Covid Task Force have duly applied their minds and have framed draft guidelines for ‘home vaccination’. A week’s time may be given to the Task Force to finalize the guidelines and to obtain the state government’s approval for implementation.”
The court noted: “We have read the draft guidelines. Prima-facie, we record our satisfaction of the Task Force having proceeded in the right direction.”
The court further said; “We, however, leave it to the wisdom of the Task Force to incorporate such measures as would ultimately benefit the elderly and the disabled citizens, in whose interest such guidelines have been conceived. We also hope and trust that by Tuesday next, when we propose to take up this PIL petition next, the state government would be in a position to apprise us on how it proposes to go forward by initiating drives for ‘home vaccination’.”
The matter will now be taken up on June 29.
On June 14 the court had noted that there is no categorical prohibition imposed by the Central government for the states to undertake a door-to-door vaccination programme, for the elderly and disabled citizens. The Court made this observation after it inquired from the counsel appearing for the Government of India, as to whether the UoI has in any manner prohibited the State of Kerala, Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and other States who have commenced door to door vaccination to stop the same. The Counsel for the UoI had replied that what has been issued by the Central Govt is merely a guideline/advisory.
The Bombay High Court in its order dated June 11, had recorded the submissions made by Counsel appearing on behalf of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, that by a letter dated June 10, 2021, the Municipal Commissioner had informed the Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, of the MCGM’s willingness to conduct door to door Vaccination and if permitted by the Government of India, such course of action could be commenced.
The Court was informed by the counsel appearing for the UOI that Dr Manohar Agnani, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India has replied to the said letter of the MCGM inter alia informing the Municipal Commissioner, that as per the COVID 19 vaccination guidelines, vaccination is provided at identified Government and Private vaccination centres. Such letter records that the State / UT’s have been repeatedly advised to operationalise ‘Near to Home COVID Vaccination Centres’ (NHCVCs) in order to bring vaccination services closer to the community for elderly and differently-abled persons and to operationalize such units in Community Centres, Resident Welfare Association centres/offices, housing societies, colonies, panchayat ghar/offices, school and college buildings, old age homes etc.
The letter also records that the issue of the door to door vaccination for the disabled and elderly were deliberated by technical experts in the meeting of ‘National Experts Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19’ (NEGVAC), which has advised that vaccination cannot be given at the doorstep due to various issues and risks associated with maintenance of proper cold chain, potential contamination of vaccine, AEFI’s management, vaccine wastage, the potential of COVID-19 protocols being compromised, etc.