More than one-fourth of registered bedridden persons given first Covid jabs, Mumbai civic body tells HC

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Tuesday informed the Bombay High Court that from July 30 till August 9, out of the 4,889 bedridden and immobile persons registered for home vaccinations in the city, 1,317 have been inoculated.

The civic body submitted that since the last hearing on August 5, when 602 beneficiaries were vaccinated, the number has increased by 715 within a week’s time. With this, more than one-fourth of the total registered beneficiaries have received their first jabs, it said.

The court had last week directed the BMC to file an affidavit indicating the total number of bedridden people vaccinated in its areas by August 11, and also asked it to indicate the exact role of NGOs in its home vaccination drives.

On August 10, the civic body submitted an affidavit to a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni. The bench has been hearing a PIL by city-based lawyers Dhruti Kapadia and Kunal Tiwari, seeking directions to the Centre, the state and the BMC to provide door-to-door vaccination to people aged above 75 years, and to the disabled and bedridden.

Last week, Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni placed before the court a finalised “state policy for Covid-19 vaccination for bedridden and immobile persons” and said the drive has started and till date “it is more or less successful”. The policy says beneficiaries shall get Covaxin doses, although there may be a constraint in its availability.

Advocate Kapadia said there are certain areas where improvements can be made and also expressed reservations about NGOs being asked to participate in the home vaccination process. She said that as per the policy, private doctors are to certify that a beneficiary is not likely to have AEFI (Adverse Event Following Immunization), but in absence or unavailability of such doctors, the corporation should send its doctors to ensure the same.

The court had directed advocate Kapadia to forward her additional suggestions to the state government counsel.

The petitioners suggested that post vaccination, for 48 hours, the beneficiary should be monitored for any serious adverse effect and if any detected, the person should be immediately attended by a local hospital on priority. Follow-up calls and visit by doctors where necessary can be made, the petitioner suggested.

Further suggestions included the creation of mobile application where medical history of the beneficiary can be stored on registration, so that if any adverse effect takes place, the medical record can be tracked to treat him or her without delay.

The petitioners also said all bedridden persons may not possess ID cards issued by the government and the issue should be addressed. Kapadia said a helpline number should be provided for registration for home vaccination.

The BMC in its affidavit stated that it has collected ward-wise details of bed-ridden persons through house-to-house surveys by health staff along with the applications received through a dedicated email ID created by the state health department, and that till August 9, no incidence of AEFI has been reported in the bedridden persons vaccinated so far.

Responding to the role of NGOs, the affidavit said that the civic body took support from NGO in some wards for manpower support and for basic life support (BLS) ambulances. “NGO can help in calling the beneficiaries 3-4 days before the day of vaccination and its support can be taken to sensitise local doctors and help beneficiaries in obtaining certificate of ‘fit for covid-19 vaccination,” the BMC said.

The civic body added that NGOs can also support in arranging a doctor to wait for the 30-minute post-vaccination observation and also help the vaccination team with their human resources to ‘ease the burden on the already strained public health system.’

The HC will hear the PIL next on Thursday, August 12.