Inclusion of mental illness as priority group for COVID vaccine: Delhi HC seeks Health Ministry's reply
The petitioner stated that by way of excluding the mental illness from the list of Specified Comorbidities, Health Ministry has not only prohibited mentally ill persons from availing the benefits of COVID19 vaccination but has also created barriers in getting the COVID19 vaccination.
New Delhi: Hearing public interest litigation (PIL) filed by mental health activist Advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, Delhi High Court on Monday issued notice to the Union Health Ministry, Central Mental Health Authority and the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 asking them to submit their response on the inclusion of mental illness as a priority group for COVID-19 vaccination.
The division bench was headed by the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court.
Bansal, in his petition, has stated that by way of excluding the mental illness from the list of Specified Comorbidities, Health Ministry has not only prohibited mentally ill persons from availing the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination but has also created barriers in getting the COVID-19 vaccination.
Bansal has also pointed out that homeless mentally ill persons are one of the 'neglected group' which is not included in the priority group for COVID-19 vaccination.
"It is also important to keep in mind that homeless persons with severe mental illness have a higher risk of spreading the COVID-19 infection due to the fact that because of their disability they are unable to understand what is happening with them," stated Bansal in the petition.
The plea also seeks direction to remove the condition of submitting disability certificates by beneficiaries for getting COVID-19 vaccination.
The country started its vaccination drive on January 16 with priority given to all healthcare and frontline workers in the first phase. The second phase started on March 1 where doses are being administered to people above the age of 60 and those between 45 and 59 years with specific comorbidities.