Make Aadhaar preferred ID for Covid vaccine, Centre tells Karnataka | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: While Aadhaar based verification was deliberately avoided during Phase 1 — solely for healthcare workers — of Karnataka’s Covid-19 vaccination programme, the Union health ministry has now asked state governments to consider the unique ID as a “preferred” mode of identification. However, consent from beneficiaries is necessary.
Rajesh Bhushan, secretary, ministry of health and family welfare, on January 30, wrote to all state governments emphasising the need to create an ‘immutable vaccination event records (IVER)’.
“The CoWIN software interface provides for authentication of beneficiaries through use of Aadhaar, based on biometric, eKYC or demographic authentication modes, with consent of the beneficiary,” the letter states. A copy of the letter is with TOI.
“Since the use of Aadhaar for verification provides the most reliable authentication of beneficiaries, Aadhaar based authentication must be the preferred mode for verification of beneficiaries prior to vaccination at the vaccination site. A utility for scanning of Aadhaar QR code is also being included in the CoWIN software to improve on success rate of Aadhaar authentication,” the letter states.
However, this hasn’t gone down well with activists who have been campaigning against Aadhaar. They say health services like Covid-19 vaccination should not be linked to the unique ID.
Kiran Jonnalagadda, who calls himself a social technologist, said, “Anyone can present anyone else’s card as it can be photocopied. It is not possible to verify if an Aadhaar card belongs to a certain individual without performing biometric authentication. But biometric identification has a high degree of failure, so it is not commonly used.”
He said since other IDs are also valid, the government cannot depend on Aadhaar number to confirm if someone is getting multiple doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.
However, the government had sung a different tune on healthcare workers using Aadhaar for verification for inoculation. It had categorically stated that Aadhaarbased verification should be avoided as it could have legal implications. This mandate is still up on the state’s government website for Covid ( website) under the hyperlink ‘FAQs with answers-Healthcare worker database template for Covid-19 vaccine beneficiary management system’.
When contacted, Jawaid Akhtar, additional chief secretary, health and family welfare department, Karnataka, said he cannot comment on the matter. “We will follow whatever the government of India instructs,” he said.
Bhushan was unavailable for comment nor did he reply to TOI’s
email seeking clarity on the legal implications of linking Aadhaar to Covid-19 vaccination.
However, the communication from the Centre states “alternative identity documents, as specified in the operational guidelines for Covid-19 vaccination, may also be used in instances where Aadhaar-based authentication is not possible for any reason”.
The other identity cards specified are: Driving licence, health insurance smart card issued under the ministry of labour scheme, MNREGA job card, official identity cards issued to MPs/MLAs/MLCs, PAN card, passbook issued by bank/post office, passport, pension document, service identity card issued to employees by central/state government /PSUs/ public limited companies, smartcard issued by RGI under NPR and voter ID.

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Sagar Biswas

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