Earlier this week, Delhi started special vaccination drives for transgender persons and sex workers in the city as part of its efforts to inoculate these two communities, which have been categorised as "high-risk groups" by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. On Tuesday, June 22, one such dedicated vaccination centre for transgender persons opened at the DUSIB Flats, opposite Sultanpuri bus terminal, in northwest Delhi, reported Hindustan Times.
The initiative saw a good turnout as more than 300 persons from the transgender community over the week turned up for the drive. The camp was initiated by District Magistrate (Northwest) Cheshta Yadav. At least 45 beneficiaries turned up to get their jab on the first day of the drive. On Wednesday, June 23, this number grew to 80. After that, the numbers started growing.
How Were Authorities Able To Overcome Hesitancy?
Vaccine hesitancy has been a big concern for authorities in getting India's population inoculated, thanks to rumours about vaccines causing deaths and infertility. To address this issue, the district administration embarked on an awareness drive to do away with hesitancy. They shared posters of the drive, spread awareness about the special drive through word of mouth and WhatsApp messages. Delhi has at least 55,633 female sex workers and 9,496 transgender persons in the high-risk groups, according to the National AIDS Control Programme of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Lack Of Identity Cards
Another reason behind people from the community falling out of the vaccine net has been a lack of identity cards. Masoom, a sex worker, said the problem she and many of her friends faced was the lack of identity cards. "The CoWIN portal asks for Aadhaar or other IDs and most of us don't have any. Registration was a problem. I hope walk-in centres are opened for us soon," she said. Additionally, the CoWIN app does not have a third gender column leaving such people in the lurch.
A senior Delhi government official, though, said the Union government has allowed vaccination of people in high-risk groups even if they do not have any of the seven acceptable ID proofs. "District administrations have to identify one key facilitator in each such group and that person must have an active mobile number and at least one valid identification proof. The CoWIN system now provides the facility to create special vaccination sessions -- facilitated cohort registration -- that allows the registration of as many beneficiaries as are to be covered (subject to the limit prescribed), without the mandatory capturing of mobile number and photo ID of each," the official said, asking not to be named.