The fact-checking wing of the Uttar Pradesh government’s Information and Public Relations Department (IPRD) declared a report by The Times of India (TOI) on access to COVID vaccines in the state as false. The TOI report said that an order by UP’s National Health Mission (NHM) directs that local address proof is mandatory for the 18-44 age group to get vaccinated.

TOI reported on May 10 that the order was issued by UP NHM director Aparna Upadhyay. It stated that only Uttar Pradesh citizens will be vaccinated at all government COVID vaccination centres. While the order was issued to ensure that UP citizens get access to vaccines, the “rule could end up blocking many residents of Noida and Ghaziabad from getting a shot because both districts have a large population of migrants from Delhi and other parts of India with ID documents made in their home towns and only rent agreements as local address proof,” said TOI adding that the central government has put no such restriction on vaccinations and the CoWIN portal also allows people to select vaccination centres based on pin codes. The local address rule is not applicable to private hospitals but very few private centres are vaccinating the 18-44 age group while 16 government centres have been set up in both districts. These centres however have a modest target of vaccinating 3,100 people in Ghaziabad and 2,800 people in Noida.

UP govt’s failed fact-check

One of the authors of The Times of India article Shalabh tweeted the UP NHM order was issued on May 7 which states that only UP citizens within the age group 18-44 will receive COVID vaccines at government centres.

The order states, “Since May 1, COVID vaccinations for the age group 18-44 is being carried out by the state government in seven districts (Bareilly, Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Prayagraj, Meerut, Kanpur and Varanasi). This is soon to be expanded to other districts in the state. It has been brought to attention by certain districts that citizens of other states have been registering for vaccination in the age group 18-44 and due to this citizens of UP have not been able to benefit. It is to be made clear that the Uttar Pradesh government has been purchasing vaccines for the age group 18-44. Therefore, only citizens of the state will receive COVID vaccine jabs. After the registration for vaccination, it should be ensured before the vaccination that the people within the 18-44 age group are citizens of UP. COVID vaccination of residents from other states will not be carried out in state vaccination centres.”

NHM UP later said that any document to prove residency – electricity bill, rent agreement – can be shown as proof of residence and UP address in Aadhaar is not mandatory.

In an earlier order, the national health mission of UP said that only ‘citizens’ of the state within the 18-44 age group will receive vaccines in government centres. The government subsequently claimed that no such order was issued but an NHM release from May 7 proves otherwise. In an attempt to save face, NHM UP tweeted that ‘residents’ of UP can show any document as proof of residency and get the jab. However, it must be pointed out that every person residing in the state may not have proof of local residence, for instance, migrant labourers who reside at construction sites or other marginalised groups who do not have a roof over their heads. Any identification proof should suffice to get vaccinated and the UP government’s insistence for local residence proof does not seem reasonable.

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About the Author

Pooja Chaudhuri is a senior editor at Alt News.