Indian Women are Lagging Behind in the Country’s Covid-19 Vaccination Drive

In India, a lot of men have received the covid-19 vaccine as opposed to the number of women who have, according to the government’s data. The rural population is disadvantaged in this drive.

India has a population of 1.3 billion people, with 6% more men than women. About 101 million men have been partly or fully vaccinated which is nearly more than 17% of women. According to data by Reuters, 54% of the total number of people inoculated are men. 

The capital of India, Delhi, and other large states like Uttar Pradesh have the worst inequalities. However, in the south of India, Kerala, and central, Chhattisgarh has vaccinated more women than men. 

Prashant Pandya, a medical superintendent at a government hospital in Gujarat told Reuters that they were noticing that men, especially in towns and villages, preferred to take the vaccine before women as they have to travel for work, while women were relegated to domestic chores.

Some health officials also claimed that rumours about the vaccine disrupting women’s menstrual cycles and reducing fertility have majorly contributed to the data. However, these concerns have been blatantly rejected by the government. 

According to Sudha Narayanan, a worker in the health ministry in New Delhi and a former bureaucrat, the government will have to ramp up awareness programs in rural India to ensure women understand the importance of vaccines and prioritize themselves in this race to secure the two shots. Women will also have to step forward to get vaccinated or the divide will rapidly widen.

Questions about such gender disparity were ignored by the spokesperson of the Federal Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. 

In some parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan state, women are appealing to the government to help deliver the vaccines directly to their homes because they are unable to leave their children behind to make trips to the hospital. 

“I don’t know how to read and write … How will I register for the vaccine? The government must send the medicine to us” one of the women, Laxmiben Suthar, a mother of four in Gujarat lamented. 

The government has refused to perform door-to-door immunization since the vaccines are only for emergency use and recipients are to be monitored after they take the vaccines. 

Government data has also proved that Indians living in urban areas are getting more shots than those in the countryside due to policies that assisted richer cities to purchase more vaccines than rural ones. 

Starting from June 21, vaccines will be free and at no cost for adults, according to the Prime minister, Narendra Modi. Following several complaints about online registration, the government hopes to cater to more walk-in inoculations. 

About 233.7million doses have been administered already, this is the highest number of vaccinations after China and the United States. However, the two doses have been given to only 5% of the population. 

After the United States, India has the second-highest number of coronavirus infections with total cases of about 29 million and 351,309 deaths. 

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