Hardly scope for getting first dose of vaccine: K’taka HC on vaccine shortage

The court has directed the state to submit a requisition before the Centre to overcome the shortage

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The Karnataka High Court has brought its attention to the acute shortage of vaccines in the state, and has directed the state government to submit a requisition to the Centre and in turn directed the Centre to make a decision on it within 3 days.

The bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar has been consistently hearing matters related to Covid management in the state. On May 5, it focused on shortage of oxygen and Remdesivir in the state, and issued directions to that effect. The bench directed the Centre to increase oxygen allocation to Karnataka to 1200MT with immediate effect, on an ad hoc basis until Centre reconsiders its decision. With respect to Remdesivir, the court gave the Centre two days to reconsider its decision on allocation to the state.

LiveLaw reported that on the May 6 hearing, the bench observed that the scenario with respect to the vaccination is shocking. “Available doses of 7,76,675 will have to be given firstly to those beneficiaries who have taken the first dose and the requisite period of second dose as per notification of the Central government is likely to expire. Second priority can be given to health care workers and frontline workers. In short, in the situation that prevails today, it is virtually impossible in the state of Karnataka for citizens to get their first dose of vaccination unless they fall in the category of healthcare workers and frontline workers,” the bench reportedly said.

The court asked the state to ensure that it mentions in its requisition the number of beneficiaries who are likely to lose advantage of the first dose, if the vaccine is not administered to them immediately. Upon perusal of the state’s submission, the court concluded that there is hardly scope for administering the first dose of the vaccine. “We hope and trust that the central govt will consider this critical situation while dealing with the requisition made by the state government,” the bench said.

The state government informed the court that requisition has been made to private manufacturers on May 3, for supply of vaccine for the age group of 18 years to 44 years, and that so far vaccines have not been received for the same.

The court also directed the state government to ensure that assistance is provided to citizens in registration for the vaccine, especially the vulnerable sections, because unless they get registered, the object of vaccination will be frustrated. The court also questioned the state on how it plans to carry out targeted vaccination for class of workers such as sanitation and crematorium workers and sought a response by the next hearing.

Other issues

It was brought to the court’s notice by the counsels for one of the petitioners, that Covid was spreading unchecked in the slums of Bengaluru city. The court directed the state to file submissions with a scheme for preventing the spread in slums.

On being informed on the number of beds of various types in Bengaluru, the court deemed the situation to be grim. However, BBMP counsel assured the court that they were looking at each ward and monitoring availability of oxygen and said that 100 more oxygen beds were to be added in government run hospitals. The court sought to know all steps taken.

The court also questioned the state on the decisions taken to ensure food security of the vulnerable sections of the society.

The case will next be heard on May 11.


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