Sun. Jun 20th, 2021

On Tuesday, Internet ‘activists’ took to Twitter to raise a storm to claim that they want to stop ‘vaccine discrimination’ in India.

Apparently some 1500+ people and organisations ‘endorsed’ this gimmick that ‘vaccine discrimination’ needs to stop. They claimed that the ‘vulnerable population’ in India which does not have ID proof, will be deprived of vaccination and puts them at risk. Hence, they want the vaccination to be carried out without any sort of documentation.

Now, if only Internet ‘activists’ would Google a little before throwing a hissy fit, they would actually do themselves a favour than coming across as a bunch of hysterical nuisance creators.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued an SOP [pdf] on Chinese coronavirus vaccination for people who do not have identity proof.

The ministry acknowledges that a certain vulnerable section of the society may not have valid identity proofs but are equally at risk to catch the infection. Hence, a procedure for the same has been issued by the ministry. The procedure as per the SOP is as follows:

  1. Such groups of people include nomads (including sadhu/saints from various religions), prison inmates, inmates in Mental Health Institutions, citizens in Old Age Homes, road side beggars, people residing in rehabilitation centres/camps and any other identified eligible persons, aged 18 years or more, and not having any of the seven prescribed individual Photo ID Cards.
  2. District Task Force may identify such groups of persons in respective districts not having any of the prescribed individual Photo ID Cards with assistance from concerned government department/ organisation like department of minority affairs, social justice, social welfare etc.
  3. The information regarding the identified groups and the number of beneficiaries to be covered, must be collated at the state level and the state government must issue clear instructions for implementation of these SOPs along with the district-wise estimated maximum number of doses to be administered using this special dispensation. A copy of such instructions must be displayed in public domain and should also be endorsed to the Ministry.
  4. A Key Facilitator may also be identified for each such group. The Key Facilitator must have a valid and active mobile phone and must also have at least one of the seven mandated ID cards. These could be officials of the institutions (both public or private) which normally provide care and services to people in the identified groups, e.g. Prison officials for prison inmates, Executive Officer/Superintendent of and Old Age Home etc.
  5. A district nodal officer may be designated by the DTF, for identification of Key Facilitators, preparation of vaccination plan, identification of CVCs where vaccination sessions are to be organised, preparation of vaccination schedule, communication of vaccination schedule to the identified groups/beneficiaries and mobilization of beneficiaries as per vaccination plan.
  6. District Immunization Officer (DIO) will be responsible for organization of vaccination sessions at identified CVCs for providing coverage to the identified groups.
  7. The CoWIN system will provide the facility for creation of special vaccination sessions for this purpose. The session will have following features – i. Registration of as many beneficiaries as are to be covered (subject to the limit of session capacity), without mandatory capturing of Mobile Number and Photo ID Card, through facilitated cohort registration. ii. All vaccination slots in such special sessions will be reserved for vaccination of such facilitated cohorts. iii. This facility will only be available at government CVCs. iv. Information such as name, year of birth (as provided by the beneficiary) and gender will be entered in the CoWIN system for the beneficiaries. v. The Key Facilitator shall verify the identity of the beneficiaries. vi. Digital vaccination certificates are to be provided to the beneficiaries, preferably at the Vaccination Center itself.
  8. The District Nodal Officer will be personally responsible to ensure that the special dispensation provided through these instructions, is extended only to cover such persons who do not have any of the seven mandated Photo ID Cards.
  9. Vaccine doses made available through the Government of India channel may be used for vaccination of beneficiaries aged 45 years or more and the vaccine doses procured by the State/UT Government may be used for those aged 18 years to 44 years.
  10. All technical protocols as prescribed in the Guidelines of the Ministry regarding vaccination centres and AEFI management etc., must be followed.

The procedure is very clearly prescribed. If only these ‘activists’ had bothered to look it up, they would have saved themselves some time and perhaps money that would have gone into getting hashtags trending.

The government, obviously, needs to keep track of the vaccines administered. So demanding that the governments keep no record of vaccination is an absurd demand. The government needs to know details about inoculation so that they can prepare themselves for any future such health crisis.

Further, the government also needs to keep tab on the vials used and doses administered to prevent black marketing and subsequent exploitation. If there is no one to keep track of it, it is bound to happen, as we have recently seen in oxygen and crucial medicine crisis. It is shocking that this needs to be said in as many words.

But to create a storm in a tea cup over the Internet when you call yourself ‘Internet activists’ for things that are easily available on the Internet just reflects lack of common sense in these so-called activists. If only there were a vaccine to increase one’s IQ.

Health is a state subject and state governments are free to make policies they deem fit. Odisha government today announced that they will soon make vaccines available to vulnerable people without need of ID proof.