Are women falling behind in India’s ongoing vaccination drive?
Official stats indicate that more men are getting the shots than women in most parts of India.
Recently, addressing a press conference on the “historic milestone” of administering 88.09 lakh vaccine doses in a single day, India’s health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said: “Of the total doses administered, women comprised 46.35% of those vaccinated, men 53.63%, while others comprised 0.02%”.
A report by Reuters on June 8 quoting government data said India has partly or fully vaccinated about 101 million men, more than women.
Many cities such as Delhi, and bigger states such as Uttar Pradesh, have seen some of the worst inequities. Only Kerala in the south and Chhattisgarh in central India have deviated from the trend by vaccinating more women than men.
There is no official data on the age group, gender, state, rural-urban residence, or any other classification of vaccine recipients in India, which would have helped identify these sections accurately on their vaccination status.
The Centre for Economic Data and Analysis (CEDA), Ashoka University, created a moving map that shows the female to male ratio in vaccinations by district each day since vaccinations started.
According to the CEDA maps, the ratio of women to men was high in the first phase because women formed a high proportion of frontline health workers. When the vaccination was opened up to the larger sections of the general public, the ratio started falling.
Experts consider the declining percentage of women getting vaccinated as a matter of concern as the COVID-19 mortality rate among women is apparently higher than among men in India.
An analysis of COVID-19 cases from India published recently in The Lancet found that the mortality ratio between men and women was non-uniform across different age groups: the risk of mortality was significantly higher among women than men, particularly in the 40–49 year age group.
On a population level, India has about 6% more men than women, it is estimated.