Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

As the vaccination drive was opened for the ages 18 and above on 1st May, a race on the website CoWIN started. A race that was discriminatory, and deeply unfair.

With demand for jabs far outnumbering the supply, tech-savvy Indians with access to smartphones and high speed internet, started subscribing to Telegram alerts and booking slots through multiple apps. Not only this, some rich and privileged people didn’t shy away from driving up to hundreds of kilometers to get their shot in remote villages. 

Poor and underprivileged communities; those who live in urban slums, who still don’t have access to 4G internet in their villages, people who don’t know how to operate a smartphone, those who had to walk up to 40kms to reach a PHC were left behind. Women and marginalized groups who tend to have even less digital access were affected the most. 

On 11th May, we supported a tweetstorm organized by the Internet Freedom Foundation, demanding a better vaccination policy. Twitter got flooded with tweets asking for a change in India’s vaccination policy riddled with access and inequity problems. Soon, the #VaccinateIndia started trending on Twitter.

We launched a petition the next day, to demand an equitable and accessible vaccination policy for India.

The Supreme Court also harshly criticized the vaccination policy taking into account the suo moto case filed on COVID issues. A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat pointed out that India’s vaccination policy was prima facie arbitrary and irrational. 

With pressure increasing from all sectors, the government of India finally made some big but important changes to the existing vaccination policy.

Let’s understand step by step what changes have been made: 

 

Procurement of vaccines: 

Under the earlier Covid vaccine policy, half of all vaccines produced in India were procured by the central government, and the rest went to state administrations and private hospitals.

But now the central government will procure 75% of all vaccines manufactured. The state governments will receive their vaccine doses for free from the central government, instead of negotiating directly with manufacturers.

Price of the vaccines: 

You might have seen how some luxury hotels in association with private hospitals were offering ‘Covid-19 vaccination packages’.

With the revised policy coming into effect, private hospitals can charge only Rs 150 as service charge over and above the price of the vaccine. The maximum price that can be charged by private centres is Rs 780 for Covishield, Rs 1,410 for Covaxin; and is Rs 1,145 for Sputnik V. The total cost of vaccination will be displayed on the CoWIN portal at the time you book your slot.

Booking an appointment on Cowin

India’s vaccination policy was proving to be discriminatory against those who didn’t have access to smartphones and internet connection. However, from June 21, all government and private vaccination centres will provide an onsite registration facility. A detailed procedure is to be finalised and published by the states.

Also, the centre has now allowed walk-in registration for vaccination for the 18-44 age group. However, the option is only open at government-run Covid vaccination centres for now.

Privacy policy of the CoWIN website

Currently, the website asks for your personal data and health data without assurance of any digital safeguards. However, Delhi HighCourt ordered the government to ensure that a privacy policy is uploaded on CoWIN within four weeks. To make it easier for the people, the HC also said, “The Union of India should ensure that the FAQs on the COWIN application are updated regularly, and all relevant information is provided to the people”. 

We welcome the changes made in the policy. However, the centre must ensure that vaccine shortage doesn’t become a barrier in inoculating India’s population against the virus. Also, it’s important to see how the government tackles vaccine hesitancy that still prevails  in several parts of the country. 



Leave a comment