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Women fall behind in India’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign


India has partially or fully immunized about 101 million men, almost 17% more than women. Men make up 54% of the total number of people vaccinated, data shows.

Many federally administered regions, the capital Delhi, and large states such as Uttar Pradesh have experienced some of the worst inequalities. Only Kerala in the south and Chhattisgarh in central India vaccinated more women than men.

“We notice that men, especially in towns and villages, prefer to be vaccinated before women because they have to travel to work, while women are relegated to household chores,” said Prashant Pandya, medical director of ‘a large government hospital in the western state of Gujarat.

Health officials say rumors that vaccines disrupt women’s menstrual cycles and reduce fertility have also contributed to the skewed data. The government dismissed the concerns.

“The government will need to step up outreach programs in rural India to ensure women understand the importance of vaccines and prioritize themselves in this race to get both vaccines,” said Sudha Narayanan, a former bureaucrat. who worked at the Ministry of Health in New Delhi. .

Women will have to step forward to get vaccinated or the gap will widen quickly, Narayanan added.

India, with a population of 1.3 billion, has about 6% more men than women.

A spokesperson for the Federal Department of Health and Family Welfare did not respond to Reuters questions about the gender disparity.

Some women in rural Gujarat and neighboring Rajasthan state have urged authorities to deliver vaccines to their doorsteps, saying they cannot get to hospitals leaving their children behind.

“I can’t read or write … how will I register for the vaccine?” said Laxmiben Suthar, a mother of four in the town of Vadnagar in Gujarat. “The government must send us the medicine.”

India’s immunization policy has evolved rapidly, but the federal government has so far resisted calls for home immunizations as vaccines have only been authorized for emergency use and recipients should be monitored for a short time for any side effects.

Urban Indians are also receiving Covid shots much faster than the hundreds of millions of people living in the countryside, government data has shown. This is in part due to a policy that has helped wealthier cities buy more doses of the vaccine than rural districts.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reversed the previous policy on Monday and said vaccines will be offered free to all adults from June 21. The government will also facilitate more walk-in vaccinations after complaints about the online registration process.

India has so far administered 233.7 million doses, the most in the world after China and the United States, but has only given the two necessary doses to about 5% of its 950 million. estimated adults.

India has the second highest number of coronavirus infections in the world after the United States, with a total of nearly 29 million cases, according to data from the Ministry of Health. The country has killed 351,309 people.

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