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HC directs govt to set up special vaccination centres for disabled
The Madras High Court on Monday directed the State to establish special counters at all government vaccination centres to administer COVID-19 vaccine to the differently abled.
Observing that the lack of action on the part of the Centre unfortunately delayed the matter, the first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy sought the State to give priority to disabled persons.
The court also asked the government to consult experts, Centre and vaccine manufacturers to take a reasoned decision on the appropriate minimum age for a person with disability to be vaccinated. The primary consideration should be whether vaccines have any adverse impact on infants, children or persons who have not attained adulthood, the Chief Justice said.
“Persons with disabilities should be given priority even if the numbers do not warrant an exclusive counter being set up at every government vaccination centre,” the bench held while directing the State government to ensure that such centres were accessible to persons with disabilities by constructing ramps or other measures in accordance with the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
The bench was passing orders on a PIL moved by Meenakshi Balasubramanian, polio survivor and co-founder, Equals Centre for Promotion of Social Justice, seeking inclusion of persons with disabilities and their caregivers as priority groups for vaccination.
His counsel A Yogeshwaran submitted that the present age restriction of 45 years should not be applied to the disabled, who are at least six times more at risk when compared to others.
The Centre had submitted that certain categories of persons with disabilities (intellectual, muscular dystrophy, acid attack victims, disabled persons with high support needs, persons with multiple disabilities) were already considered as persons facing greater risk and provided vaccination.