The Supreme Court has issued notice on a plea seeking priority in vaccination for pregnant and lactating women filed by the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Government of NCT Delhi, a statutory body created under the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005.
While issuing notice to the Union and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice B.V. Nagarathna sought the Solicitor General’s assistance with respect to the policy and operational guidelines regarding issues raised in the petition.
Advocate Vrinda Grover appearing for the petitioner stated that the GOI advisory on January 14th, 2021 is no longer consistent with the medical and expert opinion on the issue of vaccination for pregnant and lactating women. It was further stated that the latest medical opinion, both domestically and internationally, is of the overwhelming view that pregnant and lactating women need to be treated as a ‘high-risk’ category of persons who ought to be vaccinated on priority.
FOGSI’s recommendations, published in the last week of April 2021, state:
“The very real benefits of vaccinating pregnant and lactating women seem to far outweigh any theoretical and remote risks of vaccination. Lactating women should also be considered as Covid vaccine candidates as there are no known adverse effects on the neonate who is breastfeeding. In fact, there is a passage of protective antibodies to the child, which may be a beneficial effect”
The petition further states that denial of vaccination to pregnant and lactating women amounts to denial of access to maternal health and well being of the neonate child.
The petition also states that denial of vaccination to pregnant and lactating women after new findings is in turn denial of rights under Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.
The PIL filed by AOR Prateek K Chadha also seeks setting up of a taskforce in materializing a mechanism to track and monitor Pregnant Women and lactating mothers post vaccination and directions to create a registry to track and register. Also, to develop SOPs, education material for side-effects of vaccination, effects on pregnancy. Furthermore, the petition seeks separate vaccination centres for pregnant women and lactating mothers alongside directions to engage anganwadi centres and Asha workers for vaccination drive to reach out to these women. The petition, at last, seeks directions to make an option on CoWin Portal so that the pregnant women and lactating mothers can classify/identify themselves as PW /LM and be prioritized while providing slots for vaccination.
The matter is now listed after 2 weeks.WP_572_2021-1