The government told the Supreme Court just days before India completed a year of its Covid-19 inoculation program that it has not released any guidelines that allow for immunization without consent or that make a vaccination certificate essential for any purpose.
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare stated in an affidavit filed on January 13 that ,no one can be forced to be vaccinated against their will.
It further stated that the Indian government has not issued any SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) requiring the possession of a vaccination certificate for any purpose.
The government said that because “vaccination for Covid-19 is of greater public interest in light of the ongoing pandemic situation,” “it is duly advised, advertised, and communicated through various print and social media platforms that all citizens should get vaccinated,” and that “systems and processes have been designed to facilitate the same.” No one can, however, be forced to be vaccinated against their will.”
The government has developed operational standards for Covid-19 immunisation, according to which “all beneficiaries must be informed about adverse effects that may occur following Covid-19 vaccine,” according to the report.
Some states have issued orders to discourage citizens from refusing immunisation. Only fully vaccinated people would be allowed on local trains in Maharashtra, and the Kerala government has stated that it will not cover the cost of Covid-19 therapy for unvaccinated people.
In addition, the Centre’s affidavit was filed in a case where the court had allowed the petitioner — Eluru Foundation — to propose any tangible actions to strengthen the existing framework for enabling the vaccination of disabled people and ensuring that they have proper access to the procedure. The government stated that it had received and considered the suggestions.
According to the government, 1,52,95,43,602 doses have been provided as of January 11, 2022, and 90.84 percent of the eligible adult population had gotten their first dosage of the vaccine. Sixty-one percent of the adult population had already received their second dosage of the vaccine.
A total of 23,678 doses were given to disabled people who voluntarily wanted to be identified as such by registering with their Unique Disability ID Card/Disability Certificate.
The government stated that accommodations had been established for those with disabilities who did not have any of the required ID cards “by completing the Facilitated Cohort Registration process on Co-WIN.”
The Supreme Court has been notified by the federal government that no Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) has been created requiring persons with disabilities to carry COVID-19 immunisation certificates for any reason.
The Centre declared this in response to a petition filed by the NGO Evara Foundation, which requested door-to-door, priority COVID-19 vaccination for people with impairments.
Due to difficulties adhering to hygienic procedures, adopting social distancing norms, underlying health concerns, and other factors, people with disabilities are at a higher risk of getting COVID-19, according to the petition.
According to the petition filed by Advocate Shashank Singh, booking an appointment at a certain vaccination centre is a very technical process, as a result of which those with disabilities have difficulty being vaccinated.
The affidavit also urged for the continued use of face masks or face covers, as well as information on Near to Home Vaccine Centres (NHCVCs) and the Har Ghar Dastak Abhiyan policy, which emphasises that qualified beneficiaries, including those with disabilities, will be vaccinated door-to-door.
The Centre has also said that people who do not have ID cards are still eligible for vaccination because the CoWin website allows for the development of special vaccination sessions for this purpose. The affidavit noted that these sessions “would include the elements of registration of as many beneficiaries as are to be covered without necessary capturing of cellphone number and photo ID card.”