12-year-old moves High Court seeking COVID vaccine for children

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday sought response from Centre and Delhi government on a plea moved by a 12-year-old seeking for immediate vaccination of children between the ages of 12-17 in the city.

The plea, filed by Tia Gupta through advocate Bihu Sharma also demanded vaccination be prioritised for parents having children up to 17 years of age.

The plea contended that data from across the country, including Delhi, has revealed that between April-May, the number of reported cases of children infected and suffering from Covid-19 “has risen tremendously”.

The plea said children have a fundamental right to be a beneficiary of the Covid-19 vaccines which are being promoted as “an easy, low-cost way to avoid the infection which may cause them serious harm or death”.

A bench comprising Chief Justice D.N. Patel and justice Jyoti Singh issued notice to the Centre and Delhi government on the petition.

The plea contended that it is pertinent that the vaccine policy against Covid-19 has failed to factor-in children or parents of children, who are a vulnerable section of society, for vaccination against the deadly virus.

The plea added that the evidence that unvaccinated children are more likely to develop a new, more powerful Covid-19 strain, is reflected in the prevalent ‘second wave’, which has infected many more children than the ‘first wave’ last year.

“The Respondents have failed to prepare a National Plan for children in adherence to the guidelines as given under the National Disaster Management Plan 2019, formulated under the Disaster Management Act 2005 (“DM Act”), which clearly recognize children and their vulnerability during a ‘biological health emergency’, such as the present COVID pandemic,” said the plea.

The plea said there is enough empirical evidence to show that Covid-19 virus brings long term health complications such as organ damage, long Covid, or multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) and death — to at least some proportion of children.

“The State is obligated to recognize the vulnerability of children during this pandemic and accordingly take all suitable vaccination measures for them, along with other preventive medical infrastructure measures to ensure mitigation of the ‘disaster’,” added the plea.


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