The Delhi High Court on Thursday (May 13) slammed the Centre for its annoying 'dialer tune' PSA on vaccination and the method of circulation of Covid information. The reason for this taunt by the court was because of the shortage of vaccines and yet the caller tune is just making a public service announcement aimlessly. 

“You have been playing that one irritating message on the phone whenever one makes a call, for I don’t know how long, that we have the vaccination when you actually don’t have the vaccination. You are not vaccinating people but you still say, ‘vaccination lagvayein (get vaccinated)’, kaun lagayega vaccination (who will get vaccination) when there is no vaccination. What is the point?” the division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli observed.

"You should give it to everyone. Even if you are going to take money, give it. That is what even children are saying," the bench said and added that the government needs to be "innovative" dissemination of Covid information 

The court urged the Centre to create a wide range of awareness material and not just stick to one tape and play it every time. It should target the on-ground situation and find ways of connecting it with the public directly; the messages should not sound redundant, it suggested. 

"Till like a tape it stops running or starts skipping, you will run it for 10 years. So please have more of them (dialer messages). When a person hears a different one every time, maybe it will help him/her," the court said.

The few ideas put forward by the court were to use audiovisual content like videos of Dr Randeep Guleria (AIIMS director created by ICMR, which should be broadcasted on national channels. The bench also suggested turning towards Bollywood and utilise the mass fandom of actors like Amitabh Bacchan to interview with key health care authorities, like Dr Guleria or Dr Vinod Paul (NITI Ayog member) This discourse can be used to make the public aware of the use of oxygen concentrator, cylinder, and about vaccination. All this "needs to be done soon with a sense of urgency we are losing time,” it said according to a report in The Indian Express.

The court also directed towards the usage of “publicity and propaganda” which helped in generating awareness about washing hands, social distancing, and wearing a mask last year. The same mechanism should be there this year to guide the public about the proper usage of oxygen cylinders and concentrators. 

“All this needs to come fast because this is the time when people are importing and buying concentrators,” said the court, adding all this is the responsibility of the state.

It directed the Centre and Delhi governments to file their reports by May 18 on revised methods they are going to take for disseminating information on COVID management via print and TV media and also dialer tunes.

So far in Delhi, 32.74 lakh people have got one vaccination shot of Covishield or Covaxin. Of these, 4.7 lakh are in the 18-44 age bracket while another 9.65 lakh people have got both doses.

Till Thursday morning, 2.9 lakh doses for those above the age of 45, frontline workers and healthcare workers were left in stock. For the 18-44 age bracket, 3.9 lakh doses were left, of which only 10,000 are Covaxin.

(With agency inputs)

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