The Orissa High Court recently sought the response of the Central Government in a plea seeking doorstep vaccination for elderly persons, the differently-abled and others who are unable to go to vaccination centres owing to ailments or old age.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dr S Muralidhar and Justice BP Routray, noted that the Supreme Court had also raised concern over this issue while commenting on ‘vaccine capacity and disbursal’.
In an April 30 order, the Supreme Court had questioned the Centre on the steps it proposed to take for ensuring that rural areas, as well as socio-economically underprivileged sections of society, are included in the vaccination programme. The top court had also suggested that doorstep vaccination may be provided to them to minimize their travel and potential infection with COVID-19, the High Court noted.
Keeping the Supreme Court order in mind, the High Court opined the term “underprivileged” can be interpreted broadly to include those persons who are unable to reach vaccination centres, including the elderly.
“It must be possible to broadly interpret the expression ‘the underprivileged’ in the context of issues raised, to include those who, either due to age or disability or any other reason are unable to reach vaccination centres”, the order stated.
Assistant Solicitor General of India, PK Parhi has undertaken to obtain instructions on the Centre’s policy on the vaccination facilities for people who are not in a position to approach the vaccination centres.
The Court was hearing a petition moved by Sohan Mishra and others, who had sought judicial intervention to ensure COVID-19 vaccination for senior citizens with ailments, the physically challenged or those who are unable to approach the vaccination centres. Therefore, the plea prayed that vaccination be provided to them at their respective residences.
Senior Advocate RL Pangari is appearing for the petitioner.
The matter will be next heard on May 12.