Earlier this month, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) uploaded a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) related to ‘COVID-19 Vaccination of Persons without prescribed Identity Cards through CoWIN’ on its website. The SOP reiterates that the recipient of the vaccine must register on the Co-WIN portal and that the vaccinator must verify the recipient with one of seven prescribed photo identity cards:

  • Aadhaar card
  • Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC)–Voter ID
  • Passport
  • Driving License

This article aims to unpack the SOP, and argues how the government’s efforts, though a step in the right direction, are grossly inadequate to help the most vulnerable.

According to the 2011 Census, India has 4 lakh houseless families, and 17,73,040 homeless people. Civil society estimates that this number could be much higher, as high as 30 lakh. While the SOP does identify certain vulnerable groups such as ‘nomads, prison inmates, inmates in mental health institutions, citizens in old age homes, roadside beggars, people residing in rehabilitation centres, or camps’ (sic), it does not set any date or timeline for its operations to help these populations, which is intriguing, given the current threat of the pandemic and the extent of vulnerability of the identified groups.

Doing so sets the narrative that these groups are often an afterthought, which was evident even earlier when 16 states that account for 40 percent of the total homeless, did not feature that in their relief circulars last year during the lockdown.

While the SOP acknowledges that it received several representations from various state and governments and organisations, the timing of the release of the SOP leaves much to be desired. As of May 25th, 2021, there are more than 25 lakh active cases in the country.

Read the full article about India’s vaccination guidelines by Raghunandan Hegde and Arun Kumar at India Development Review.