A majority number of transgenders in West Bengal are still to urge the Covid-19 vaccine shot, the main reasons being fear and doubt among them about its impact thanks to lack of clinical trial on them till date, said experts on Saturday.
Transgenders undergo several surgeries like hormonal treatments for which there has been no trial so far to determine whether coronavirus vaccines have any serious impact because of it, they said. Even threats of social boycott, removing benefits of social schemes and of even stopping monthly rations couldn’t force them to require the vaccine, several transgenders from across West Bengal said.
“A big chunk of the transgender community is yet to wish the vaccine. This is because they’re confused and have medical mistrust since no clinical test was conducted,” clinical test specialist and pharmacologist Subhrojyoti Bhowmick told PTI.
Since transgenders undergo treatments like hormonal therapy, implant , vaginoplasty (construction or reconstruction of the vagina), mastectomy (removal of 1 or both breasts), an attempt is important before they are administered the vaccine, he said.
Incidentally, a proposal to review the factors hindering Covid-19 inoculation and immunological response post-vaccination on 500 transgenders within the town by a team of doctors led by Bhowmick to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) was rejected.
The team was told that the matter wasn’t of national importance. When contacted, a senior official of the state health department said that 25 to 30 per cent of the whole transgender population of West Bengal were inoculated, many of them with the primary dose, till early this month.
“Around 7,500 of the transgender population in West Bengal are vaccinated with a minimum of the primary dose. This is not a really good scenario since quite good number of them are yet to receive the vaccine,” the official said.
West Bengal’s total transgender population is almost 30,500, he added. Sanjib Bandopadhyay, a doctor of the state-run Beliaghata Infectious Diseases Hospital, supported the transgenders’ demand for a separate trail of the vaccines on them but rubbished their fear associated with the inoculation.
“Their (transgenders) demand for an attempt is quite valid. But their fear of the results is illogical as there’s not one example of a transgender facing any health issue after being vaccinated. “At this stage the jab may be a necessity and everybody must choose the doses,” he said. Sukanta Das alias Chorki, a transgender from Mullickpur at Baruipur within the southern fringes of the town , said that she is yet to require the vaccine.
“Tell me why should I get inoculated. There was no clinical test conducted on any folks to seek out out whether it’s any adverse effect on our body system. Many folks need to take regular medicines and that i am one among them.
“Recently I even have started taking medicines because I even need to undergo vaginoplasty. I am the only bread earner in my family and if something goes wrong with me who will take care of them,” Chorki said.
Debi Acharya, another transgender in Malda town, said that though she was initially reluctant to need the vaccine, she understood the need of it after attending a few of awareness programmes.
A few transgenders within the state’s Murshidabad district also as within the city said that they’re being ”threatened” by the administration to require the vaccine or face social boycott. They claimed that that they had also been told that their monthly rations would be stopped if they are doing not take the vaccine.
“The local councillor had sent his men to my residence who asked to me quickly take the vaccine alternatively they go to verify that i’m socially boycotted and that i don’t get rations or can purchase goods from local shops and markets,” a transgender in Behrampore said when contacted over the phone.
Vaccine trial facilitator Snehendu Konar stressed on the necessity to hold out an attempt of the vaccines on the transgenders.
“So far there has been no clinical test on the transgenders. So no safety, immunogenicity and efficacy data of Covid vaccines on this group is out there to us”. The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) should include transgenders in its vaccine study protocol, he said.