On January 16th, 2021 India launched what has been hailed as the world’s largest COVID-19 vaccination drive. At the end of February, India announced its third phase to vaccinate the elderly.
Upon hearing the news, my 95-year-old grandmother-in-law, who is bed-bound with an un-operated hip fracture, was thrilled. She sees the vaccine as the end of her ‘alone period’. But she also had questions about how and when she would receive the vaccine. She asked, “Do you know what the government has planned for us? How will I receive my vaccine? It would be very difficult for me to go out to get my shot and I’m sure there are many other people like me. So, I hope our government has a plan for us. I really hope I can get vaccinated at home. Just as the government comes home for my vote and the bank visits me in my home for proof of life each year, I hope my vaccine reaches me at home.”
I had no answers. But on March 1st when the portal opened, I registered her immediately and the very next day took her to the government hospital for her vaccine.
I was lucky and had support to ferry her to a hospital. But what about other housebound elderly who don’t have access to support systems? Their frailties make it tough for them to access a vaccination site, and without in-house vaccinations, many housebound elderly could fall through the cracks. While there are logistical concerns, can the system beat them and deliver vaccinations at home?
Shubha Nagesh is a global health professional working with the Latika Roy Foundation.
Know more: Read more about the unique set of challenges faced by the rural elderly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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