India follows a digital vaccination system where citizens aged 18 and above have to register on the Co-Win portal to get a vaccine slot. To register for, these citizens have to upload any of seven ID proofs, fill up contact and other details and click submit. The ID proofs which CoWin accepts include Aadhar Card, Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC) - Voter ID, Passport, Driving License, PAN Card, NPR Smart Card and Pension Document with photograph. This leaves us with the question - What happens to lakhs of people in India who do not possess any ID proof with them? How will the government ensure that these people are vaccinated?
To address this issue, the Union Health Ministry has issued a Statement of Purpose to all State governments regarding vaccinating persons with no ID proof. This category includes nomads (including sadhu/saints from various religions), prison inmates, inmates in Mental Health Institutions, citizens in Old Age Homes, roadside beggars, people residing in rehabilitation centres/camps and any other identified eligible persons, aged 18 years or more, who don’t have the seven accepted ID proofs.
A district task force can be set up to identify such groups of persons in each district who don’t have ID cards. They can do so with the assistance of concerned government departments including Minority Affairs, Social Justice, Social Welfare departments.
All details regarding the groups identified and number of beneficiaries covered should be collated at the state level. The state government should also issue instructions to implement these SOPs along with the district-wise estimated maximum number of doses to be administered using this special vaccine roll-out program.
For each of these groups, a key facilitator can be appointed. This person should have an active mobile number that he or she uses and must also possess one of the seven ID cards.
These could be officials of the institutions (both public or private) which normally provide care and services to people in the identified groups, e.g. prison officials for prison inmates, Executive Officer/Superintendent of and Old Age Home etc.
A district nodal officer should be appointed by the task force. This official can identify key facilitators, prepare vaccination plans, identify COVID Vaccination Centres or CVCs where the special vaccination sessions can be organised, prepare vaccine schedules and inform the identified about the vaccine schedule and also mobilise the beneficiaries as per the vaccine schedule. It is the district nodal officer’s responsibility to ensure that special vaccination sessions provided will only be extended to those persons without any ID proof.
A District Immunization Officer (DIO) will be responsible for organising vaccination sessions at identified CVCs for the list of beneficiaries.
The next step is to register on the Co-Win portal. The portal will provide a system for the creation of special vaccination sessions for those without ID cards.
The portal will allow registration of how many ever people (subject to the maximum limit of session) without mandating a phone number or photo ID card, through a provision called Cohort Registration.
All vaccinations in such sessions shall be strictly reserved to vaccinate the beneficiaries in these cohorts. The special sessions can also only be conducted in government CVCs .
Information such as name, year of birth (as provided by the beneficiary)
and gender will be entered in the CoWIN system for the beneficiaries. The Key Facilitator will verify the identity of the beneficiaries.
Finally, digital vaccination certificates have to be provided to the beneficiaries, preferably at the Vaccination Center itself.
Finally, just like routing vaccinations, all technical protocols prescribed by the Health Ministry and AEFI (Adverse Event following Immunisation) must be followed during these special drives.