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‘Accommodate mentally challenged in vax programme’
Before the third wave sets in, the authorities should identify a place to accommodate mentally ill persons wandering on the street so that it could be ensured that they received both doses of COVID vaccine, urged activists working among them.
The State government had launched special vaccination camps for persons with disabilities in May. Meanwhile, the Greater Chennai Corporation also initiated door-to-door vaccination for people who are immobile. “The majority of mentally challenged people stay with their family or at institutional centres, so there won’t be any issue in vaccinating them.
But we find a lot of mentally-ill people roaming on the streets. The government is not taking any steps to vaccinate them,” said S Namburajan, general secretary, Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of All Types of Differently-abled and Caregivers. According to him, many of those who are found wandering on the street left their families.
While some of the kin are trying to find their whereabouts and take them back, majority of families consider them a burden and do not take any effort to trace them. “We have suggested to the differently-abled welfare department that such persons could be brought to marriage halls, schools and stadia that are lying vacant with the help of local bodies. There, they could be vaccinated together. Also, if they wander around after taking the first dose, it would be difficult to find them again for the next dose. It would also be helpful to rehabilitate and reunite them with their families,” said Namburajan.
An official from the Greater Chennai Corporation said officials were working on taking such persons from the streets to a particular place and vaccinate them against COVID. “It is not an easy task; it takes time to counsel them and make them understand what it is about. On the whole, it is rehabilitation and vaccination is one part of it,” said Vishu Mahajan, Deputy Commissioner, Revenue and Finance.