The latest wave of COVID-19, also known as the Delta Variant, has devastated India beyond comparison. At its peak in May of 2021, more than 350,000 cases were reported each day. The crisis grew as hospitals were unable to accommodate the significant infection rates and supplies grew scarce. However, recent reports have shown India’s dilemma taking an upward turn. As of August 19, 2021, India’s COVID-19 infection rate has, on average, slowed to around 35,000. Compared to August 6 of the same year, rates have decreased by 15%, as noted by The New York Times’ India Coronavirus Map and Case Count. This is attributed mainly to an increase in vaccinations available and administered throughout the country. Although more citizens are becoming vaccinated, a significant problem has emerged: a significant sex gap in vaccination rates.
According to a study in July by India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, only about 46% (of all vaccines administered were given to women, compared to about 54% given to men across the country. In numerical terms, women account for around 143 million vaccinations across the country compared to the 167 million received by men out of around 310 million total vaccines. Compared to the United States, around 62.4% of women have received at least one dose of the vaccine per CDC data. In India, Andhra Pradesh is one of the only states reported where more women are vaccinated than men, per The Hans India. This gap is increased significantly in rural areas and states with less overall vaccination coverage.
So what is to blame for this phenomenon? Experts agree that traditional gender inequality has played a crucial role in this difference, reaffirmed by misinformation surrounding the vaccine’s effects on women. Many fear the vaccine will negatively impact female fertility or reproductive health. As noted in a recent article titled “How Vaccine Inequality Is Affecting Indian Women” by Forbes India, “reasons why women do not want to get vaccinated [include] ...myths that women should not get vaccinated while menstruating, that vaccines do not actually work, vaccines can be life-threatening and pregnant and breastfeeding women should not get vaccinated.” These points are unfairly skewed towards women and reaffirm the gender bias in healthcare.
The public can help combat gender discrimination by encouraging the diffusing vital and truthful information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. Promoting accurate data ensures that it is open to all and educates more folks worldwide in a productive fashion. This also helps to lessen the effect of incorrect information facing women. In the age of social media, digital media, and mass panic, sharing correct information is crucial now more than ever.
“CDC Covid Data Tracker.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021, covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccination-demographics-trends.
Chandrakanth, W. “Defying Gender Bias: More Women Receive Jabs in Andhra Pradesh than Men.” The Hans India, The Hans India, 13 Aug. 2021, www.thehansindia.com/andhra-pradesh/defying-gender-bias-more-women-receive-jabs-in-andhra-pradesh-than-men-701529?infinitescroll=1.
“CoWIN Dashboard.” CoWIN Dashboard Vaccination Stats, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, 21 Aug. 2021, dashboard.cowin.gov.in/.
New York Times Coronavirus Map Contributers. India Coronavirus Map and Case Count, The New York Times, 22 Apr. 2020, www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/world/india-covid-cases.html.