Home Covid Vaccine Not An Option: UoI Affidavit To Bombay HC
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The ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) told the Bombay high court (HC) that door-to-door vaccination is not feasible, as it would be difficult to ensure that the vaccine is maintained at the optimal temperature required and further, help a patient in case of in Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI). The detailed affidavit filed by under secretary Satyendra Singh on April 20 cited five reasons for why such a vaccination policy does not exist.

“In case of any AEFI, case management may not be proper and there will be delay in reaching health facility; Challenges in maintaining protocol of observation of beneficiary for 30 minutes after vaccination; The vaccine will be place in and out of Vaccine Carrier for each vaccination thereby increasing chances of contamination and exposure beyond recommended temperature which could affect vaccine efficacy and cause AEFI which will be detrimental to vaccine confidence and programme performance; High vaccine wastage due to increased time going from door to door taking more time for reaching out to each beneficiary; Following protocols for physical distancing and infection prevention and control may not be possible during door to door campaign,” it stated.

Two advocates, Dhruti Kapadia and Kunal Tiwari, had filed a Public Interest Litigation on April 7 seeking that the vaccination of senior citizens above 75 years, differently abled and those who are bed-ridden should be carried out in their homes. On April 9, the state of Maharashtra opposed the plea on the grounds that as per vaccination protocols issued by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration.

Purnima Kantharia, representing the state, submitted that supervision is a must after vaccination and the doctors have to observe how the body reacts to the jab. The lawyer representing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation submitted that as per guidelines, three rooms including waiting room, vaccination room and observation room are required in any vaccination centre. The lawyer submitted that as a result of this vaccination had to be carried out close to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) facility in case of any emergency.

A bench comprising chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Girish Kulkarni of the Bombay HC sought a response from the MoHFW, and also asked whether a policy for door-to-door vaccination could be put in place by the Centre. In an exhaustive affidavit filed on April 20, the Centre said that it was not mandatory to have an ICU facility for administering the Covid-19 vaccines.

The affidavit stated that as the vaccine would be constantly removed from the carrier for each shot to be administered, it would be difficult to maintain the correct temperature needed for their storage, and the chance of contamination and exposure to temperatures that are beyond what is recommended would affect vaccine efficacy and may cause Adverse event Following Immunization (AEFI).

Singh also stated that in case of an AEFI in door-to-door vaccination, it may not always be possible to take a patient to a health facility on time, and that the mandatory observation for at least 30 minutes after vaccination, would not be possible at home. The affidavit also states that after receiving requests from several state governments, more vaccination centres had been approved for special consideration of senior citizens.