‘Special measures for polls, but why not for vaccination?’

Swelling crowds at COVID-19 vaccination centres are making many anxious, forcing them to put off their second vaccine dose despite having had to wait for long to book a slot. Imagine the state of those with disabilities who have to compete with others to make their way through the rush for the jab.

Organisations working for the rights of persons with disabilities said that accessibility measures are lacking at some government vaccination centres which increases their hurdles to access healthcare. “During elections, vehicles are sent to the homes of voters who have disabilities. Volunteers who handle wheelchairs are stationed at polling booths. When special measures are taken during elections, why aren’t the same extended during vaccination,” questioned M. Srinivasulu, president of Network of Persons with Disabilities Organisations.

The Right to Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, states that the appropriate government and the local authorities shall take necessary measures for persons with disabilities to provide barrier-free access in all parts of government and private hospitals and other healthcare institutions and centres.

The Act lists types of disabilities such as physical disabilities, hearing disability, visual impairment, intellectual disability and disability caused due to chronic neurological conditions, among others.

Mr Srinivasulu said resources of access differ with the form of disability, and provision of only ramps and wheelchairs would not ensure accessibility. Citing the example of people with muscular dystrophy, he said that they are permanently dependent. “The process would become easy if there is someone to receive them at vaccination centres. Or, a separate queue should be made for persons with disabilities,” he said.

Aditya Mehta, founder of the Aditya Mehta Foundation, a non-profit organisation which promotes para sports activities, has requested Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao to give priority to persons with disabilities for COVID vaccination.

He said that people with disabilities require help with their daily chores from able bodied persons like assistants and physiotherapists. “We request you to give all the persons with disabilities at our organisation and in Telangana and their assistants priority for taking the vaccination against COVID-19,” Mr Mehta has requested.

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Printable version | Jun 15, 2021 4:00:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/special-measures-for-polls-but-why-not-for-vaccination/article34522525.ece

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