Consumer forums have appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure equitable distribution and easy accessibility of Covid vaccines across India as the third phase of vaccination drive is to begin from May 1.
The mass inoculation drive, expanded for all adults in the country from next month, is aimed at fighting the Covid pandemic.
In letters to the prime minister and the health ministry, Patient Safety and Access Initiative of India Foundation (PSAIIF) and Consumer Online Foundation stressed on the need to ensure equitable, uniform and maximum access of vaccines to people living in hard-to-reach areas and achieve comprehensive immunization.
The organisations led by Bejon Misra, a consumer policy expert, suggested a door-to-door immunization strategy. "This is in addition to giving people an option to seek an online appointment with specific allotted time slots to get vaccinated and avoid crowding," Misra said.
Congratulating Prime Minister Modi for launching the world's largest vaccination drive to immunize India's young population against Covid-19 from May 1, the organisations have suggested ways to make the Covid vaccination exercise for everyone successful.
Noting that India has the largest and fastest-growing dependent population with no significant income, the consumer forums recommended subsidized vaccination for all college students and other dependents having no income of their own.
This will make vaccines affordable and accessible to them thereby ensuring efficient and seamless execution of the vaccination drive.
Going a step further, the forums advised providing vaccine access to people especially students, the migrant population, etc irrespective of the region or location.
This is important as large population of India including migrant workers, tourists, and students are stranded in various States due to the surging Covid wave, the forums suggested.
Misra said, "Coronavirus infections have been rising in the country at an alarming rate. In this scenario, the expansion of the immunization drive for all adults above the age of 18 years is a welcome move as vaccines have a critical role to play in breaking the chain of Covid transmission, especially in the long run". "The government must, now, focus on addressing concerns related to vaccine supplies, pricing, efficacy, awareness and crowd management to make this program a grand success", he added.