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'Didi died': India must not delay vaccinating pregnant women against Covid

'Didi died': India must not delay vaccinating pregnant women against Covid

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Kalyani Agrahari, 27, an assistant teacher, was assigned to poll duty in eastern Uttar Pradesh's Jaunpur block during the April 2021 state panchayat elections. Eight months pregnant with her first child and advised bed-rest by her doctor, Kalyani asked to be excused from the 12-hour duty at the poll booth that was 32 km from her home.

The district administration not only turned down her application but also threatened her with disciplinary action if she did not report for work. Kalyani, who had been appointed to the job just four months before, had no option but to comply.

On the evening of April 15, when she returned home from the poll booth, she complained of fever and body ache. When her temperature did not subside for three days, her family tried to get her hospitalised. She was turned down by eight hospitals that said they had no free beds. In the meanwhile, she had tested positive for Covid-19 and was finally admitted to Mahila Chikitsalaya (Women's hospital) in Jaunpur. She died on April 24, two days before her third wedding anniversary.