Madras High Court directs State to prioritise COVID-19 vaccination of Persons with Disabilities, ensure vaccination centres are accessible

The Madras High Court on Monday directed the Tamil Nadu government to take steps for prioritising COVID-19 vaccination of persons with disabilities, irrespective of whether or not they have attained the age of 45 years .

To this end, the Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy has ordered the State to take a reasoned decision with three days on the minimum age limit of persons with disabilities who would be eligible for vaccination, after consultation with the Central government, if necessary.

The primary consideration in determining the minimum age would be whether the various vaccines have an adverse impact on infants, children or persons who have not attained adulthood. The manufacturers may also be consulted in such regard as to the adverse effect of the relevant vaccine on persons up to or below a particular age,” the Court added.

The Court took note of certain documents submitted by the Central government which indicated that certain categories of persons with disabilities are already being viewed as persons who are at greater risk amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

These included persons with intellectual disabilities, muscular dystrophy, acid attack victims whose respiratory system has been affected, persons with disabilities with high support needs, those persons with multiple disabilities etc. The Bench has now directed the State to take steps to prioritise the vaccination of such persons

Further, it will also be open to the State to consider administering the vaccine to persons above 18 years who are suffering from any form of disability as indicated in first schedule of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.

Pertinently, the Court has also taken on record the State’s submission that all government vaccination centres in Tamil Nadu will have separate counter throughout the day exclusively for persons with disabilities so that they are not made to wait.

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