A camp was held at the Sambhavna clinic to provide Covid-19 vaccines to gas survivors last Monday, June 21st. Organised by the Bhopal Municipal Corporation, the all-day drive saw hundreds of gas survivors receive their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. With the peak of the second wave having past, the government is ramping up its vaccine drive across the country, although progress has been delayed due to a shortage of supply.
In these neighbourhoods of Bhopal vaccines are particularly essential, as many residents suffer from chronic health conditions due to exposure to MIC gas from the leak in 1984, or from consuming water contaminated with chemicals and heavy metals from the abandoned factory site. Despite their heightened vulnerability, Bhopal’s survivor population were not given priority vaccinations when the drive first started back in January. In March, data gathered by The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal suggested that nearly 50% of the city’s Covid-19 deaths were gas survivors, and the rates may well have been higher if not for the efforts of Community Health Volunteers to shield their vulnerable neighbours. We are pleased that vaccination for survivors has now begun on a larger scale, and hope that more camps will be held soon to vaccinate the remainder of the survivor population as a matter of urgency.