HC notice on plea for mental illness in vaccine comorbidity list

The Delhi High Court on Monday sought response from the Centre on a petition seeking inclusion of severe mental illness in the list of specified co-morbidities for Covid-19 vaccination of those between 45-59 years of age.

Chief Justice D. N. Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh issued notice to the Central government, the Central Mental Health Authority and the National Expert Group of Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC).

The matter will now be heard on April 30.

The petition, filed by Advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, has sought inclusion of severe mental health issues to the list. He said that Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 provides that Right to Health is a statutory right of a person with mental illness.

In the recent phase of the vaccination which commenced on March 1, the government is vaccinating only those who are over 60 years of age and for people aged 45 and above with specified co-morbid conditions.

Co-morbid conditions including heart failure with hospital admission in past one year, kidney or liver or haematopoietic stem cell transplant recipient or on waitlist, decompensated cirrhosis, end-state kidney disease are being prioritised for the vaccination.

The petitioner contended that exclusion of mental illness from the list and further providing benefit of vaccination to persons with disabilities having high support needs, the government has not only prohibited homeless mentally ill persons from availing the benefits of vaccination but have also created barriers for thousands of persons having severe mental illness and no disability certificate.

The petitioner also sought a direction to remove the condition of submitting disability certificates by beneficiaries for getting the dose of vaccine.