Medical body advises govt not to seek ID from disabled for vax

The Disabled Doctors Association ‘Doctors with Disabilities’ has suggested the health ministry not to seek government IDs from disabled persons before vaccination.

“Persons with disabilities should not be asked to prove disability. People with some specified disabilities (athetoid cerebral palsy, person affected by leprosy, amputees, intellectual disabilities, visual disabilities) face difficulty during biometrics (thumb impression and iris scan) and therefore do not have Aadhaar cards. Many CVCs insist on the card despite a Supreme Court order on not making it mandatory. People with disabilities should not be coerced and any other identity card be used”, reads the suggestion which has been sent to both the ministries of Social Justice and Health.

In response to a plea filed by an NGO Evara Foundation, the apex court had directed this Department to invite suggestions and responses from all stakeholders and domain experts in the area of disability with regard to existing facilities and suggestions for further upgradation of the existing framework of vaccination for the Persons with Disabilities.

The suggestion letter reads further that the prioritization concept adopted by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC) lacked representation of health professionals with disabilities, and organizations of doctors with disabilities were never involved in the development of vaccine priority groups by either NEGVAC or the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Talking to IANS, Dr Satendra Singh, Founder Doctors with Disabilities, said that no one should be asked to prove disability as many individuals having specified ailments faced difficulty during biometrics. Hence, they don’t have Aadhaar cards”. He said that many vaccination centres insist on Aadhaar despite Supreme Court not making it mandatory. Any other identity card can be used.

The DwD has suggested that the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPD) has set up nine National Institutes (NIs) as autonomous bodies focusing on specific types of disabilities, and 21 Composite Regional Centres (CRCs). Their invisibility during COVID has seriously hampered disability inclusive efforts. They should be directed by the Apex Court to help people with disabilities book vaccination slots through phone or live assistance. Multiple booking methods should be developed rather than an over reliance on one app or website.


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