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Vaccine shortage, Priority vaccines, Phase III, Action Plan

High Court at Calcutta | Status: Jisha Sarkar vs. The State of West Bengal & Ors W.P.A. (P) No. 154 of 2021 | |

The State of West Bengal in the midst of the nightmarish crisis of
the COVID second wave also grapples with a severe shortage of
vaccines. While persons from the prioritized groups are turned away
from the COVID Vaccination Centres (CVCs) for lack of vaccines, the
category that is to receive the first dose of vaccines as also
immunocompromised persons and persons with disabilities (PwD) are
entirely left out of the Government notifications on inoculation.
Furthermore, a timeline for the inoculation of persons between the ages
of 18 and 44 years is also not on the horizon in the State. Such
administrative myopia in these hard times, especially in sight of the
impending third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic bodes ill for the state
of healthcare in the State besides threatening abridgement of the right to
health under the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India,
1950 for the citizens.
That urgency of the petition is submitted before this Hon’ble Court
in seeking directions to the Respondents to augment the supply of
vaccines in the State of West Bengal so as to ensure adequate stock for
the vaccination of all eligible persons, to make immediate efforts to
ensure the efficient conduct of the vaccination drive through a clear and
detailed plan including allocations for priority groups, and all other
categories in a time bound manner without discriminating between
persons receiving 1st and 2nd dosages, to consider lactating mothers in
the category of prioritised persons receiving vaccination as well as to
initiate Phase III of the vaccine drive for the inoculation of persons in the
age group of 18 to 44 years in the State through the Covid Vaccination
Centres (CVCs), both public as well as private, free of cost. To attain an
efficient inoculation drive against COVID-19, a detailed Plan of Action
must also be charted out and released by the Respondent authorities,
considering the risks and uncertainties the lack of it has caused.
The COVID crisis has brought the healthcare infrastructure of the
State to its knees, and an urgent intervention to facilitate equitable
access to vaccines ahead of the third wave of the pandemic is needed to
ensure it is not entirely grounded.