Utkal University organises Covid-19 Vaccine awareness programme for Transgender community of Bhubaneswar

Bhubaneswar: As per the 2011 census, there are 4.87 lakh transgender individuals in India. But according to recent government data, only 25,468 (5.22 percent) individuals have been vaccinated. Several reasons have together made it harder for India’s transgender community to get vaccinated. There is vaccine hesitancy among the trans community. Lack of information, awareness, and support is part of the reason. Another important factor behind vaccine hesitancy in the trans community is the complications of sex reassignment surgeries and hormone replacement therapy(HRT) that many of them go through.

Utkal University, through its Rural Outreach Programme’s Gender component, established under RUSA 2.0, organised an awareness programme on Covid 19 vaccine acceptance among the transgender community of Bhubaneswar on Thursday. Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor, prof. Sabita Acharya inaugurated the workshop and Public Health Specialist, Dr. Jayasingh Kshetry from ICMR-RMRC joined the programme as the guest speaker. Ms. Aisha Panda, community leader, Bharatpur Transgender community mobilised the community to make the workshop a success.

“Utkal University aspires to take the learnings and wisdom it has beyond the boundaries of the university and this programme is a small part of that endeavor,” said Prof. Acharya in her address. She urged the participants to practice covid appropriate behaviour, such as wearing masks and handwashing as these simple things will protect us from any future waves of Covid-19.

“Lockdowns have harshly impacted on livelihood and earnings of people. Lockdowns are not long-term solutions, vaccines are, ” said Dr. Kshetry. He explained the vaccines in detail. The delivery mechanisms, side effects, common misconceptions regarding the vaccine were discussed in detail. He answered many queries of the trans community members and was able to dispel many myths surrounding the vaccine.

Trans community leader Ms. Aisha Panda said, “Transgenders are a neglected community. Many of us have lost our livelihood during the pandemic. There is a general lack of awareness around vaccines and it’s side effects, especially as many members f our community are on HRT. We are thankful to Utkal University for organising such a workshop during this time,”

Shri Surendra Sahoo, Comptroller of Finance, Utkal University emphasized the importance of inclusion of all communities to achieve integral well-being of the society. Dr. P. K. Hota, Coordinator, RUSA 2.0 delivered the welcome address and expressed his heartfelt thanks to the transgender community for participating in the workshop. Prof. A. A. Khan, Executive Director, UECH facilitated the workshop, and Ms. Liza Swain, Programme Manager – Gender proposed the formal Vote of Thanks.