In view of the increase in gap in inoculation period between two doses of Covishield shot, experts have urged the Government to include intellectually disabled people and caregivers of bed-ridden patients in the vaccination priority list.
Dr Rajendra Prasad said the Government should allow doctors to certify family members from amongst their patients, who are caregivers and thereafter open registration for vaccination for this category.
“There is an urgent need to vaccinate caregivers of patients who are bed-ridden due to disabilities. These patients cannot be vaccinated at home, for obvious reasons, however they are exposed to the Covid virus through their young caregivers, both professional and family members, said Prasad, senior consultant Neuro and Spine Surgeon at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Delhi.
“In addition, nursing agencies providing nursing assistants (untrained ayahs) should also be allowed to vaccinate their staff. With the next wave imminent, it is imperative that we include and vaccinate caregivers of the elderly, disabled and bed-ridden persons as early as possible. These may be professional or family members,” said Prasad who is also associated with Indian Head Injury Foundation engaged in rehabilitation of seriously disabled people in the country.
Dr Prasad pointed out that the UK and Canada, who are among the countries administering the vaccine to their citizens, have expanded the gap to four months to cover maximum people.
Prasad in his letter to Union Health Minister Harshvardhan and Niti Aayog member Dr VK Paul had suggested “…increase in time gap between the two vaccinations to about 8 weeks so that more and more people, including caregivers, parents of children going to school, etc. get the first dose.”
With the increase in shot gap, Sarita who is the only caretaker for her 75-year-old mother suffering from breast cancer and father (82) having Parkisons’ disease now hopes of getting vaccinated.
She said, “there are many middle-aged sons and daughters like me, caring for older relatives with serious ailments but too young to qualify for a vaccine themselves. I wish I could get a vaccination sooner, rather than later and get protected against the coronavirus since I am the one going out for livelihood and also taking care of my old parents.”
Activists too feel that while a large number of patients are not turning up, those eager to get the shot are not eligible under the vaccine rollout programme. After inoculating healthcare workers and other frontline public employees, such as the security forces, people over the age of 60 and those above 45 but with co-morbidities are being given the shot.
Just 4.70 crore (4,50,65,998) vaccine doses have been administered through 7,33,597 sessions, as per the provisional report till Monday 7 am. “At this pace, it will take years for the country to vaccinate the needy, said advocate and health activist Dr Gaurav Kumar Bansal who has filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Delhi High Court seeking direction to the Government to include severe mental illness including those on the streets in the list of specific co-morbidities for Covid-19 vaccination.