Assam starts special Covid-19 vaccination drive for transgenders. It’s the first in India
Thirty members of the transgender community got their first Covid-19 vaccination dose in Guwahati on Friday as part of a special drive — the first such in the entire country.
A vaccination centre was set up at a shelter home for transgenders in the city with the support of the state’s health department. The drive will continue and cover other districts of the state in the next few weeks.
“The main source of income of most transgender people is begging. Since they come into contact with other people, they are very vulnerable to getting infected,” said Swati Bidhan Baruah, founder of the All Assam Transgender Association and associate vice-chairperson of Assam government’s transgender welfare board.
“As a marginalized group, they were getting left out of the vaccination process and when we requested the health department, we got a very positive response. They helped with the logistics and we were able to start the vaccination drive without any glitch,” said Baruah.
Since, it was Eid-ul-Fitr on Friday the number of participants was limited. Over 200 people are expected to get vaccinated in the second round of the drive, to be conducted next week.
“I have been interacting with transgender activists from other parts of the country and they were saying that no such vaccination programme has been launched for the community in other states. We are happy that we have been able to do it in Assam for the first time,” said Baruah.
According to the 2011 census, Assam has a transgender population of 11,374. In June last year, the state government set up a welfare board for the transgender community. A separate gender category was introduced for transgender people in the state civil services examination in October last year.
“We decided to start the special drive for the community to ensure they don’t get left out of the vaccination process. We will continue to provide them with the required doses so that the drive can continue and cover every transgender person in the state,” said Munindra Nath Ngatey, director, health services (family welfare).