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Don’t Take Covid Vaccine During Your Menses And Other Myths That Must Be Busted

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

Amid the second wave, as the Central government opened up the Covid-19 vaccination drive to all adults, the only thing surpassing the spread of the virus is the speed at which myths around vaccination are becoming public.

According to the third phase of the Covid vaccination drive in India, all above 18 will be eligible to get a vaccine from May 1. While the Centre will continue to vaccinate the eligible citizens declared previously – i.e. frontline workers, health workers and those above the age of 45 – the rest will be able to access the vaccine by state governments and private entities at the rate of Rs 400 and Rs 600 per shot respectively.

However, a few days after the new vaccination rules were announced, a myth started spreading on social media – that menstruating individuals must not get vaccinated five days prior to their period, during their period and till five days after their period.

Amid the second wave when the India’s daily numbers have made a global record for two days in a row, a vaccination drive is being seen as a possible way to combat the virus. Even though the vaccine doesn’t assure 100% immunity to the virus, it doesn’t improve the person from entering a critical condition.

Thus, any false rumour that incites fear in people against the vaccine is a dangerous step and must be addressed immediately. In the wake of such trends, here are a few myths around vaccine we need to bust if we come across them as India prepares to launch its vaccination drive:

Myth 1: Don’t take the vaccine before and after five days of their menstrual cycle.

Myths around menstruators taking the Covid vaccine that have been doing rounds on Twitter and Instagram.

The myth justifies this claim by saying that menstruators are at their weakest around their period and their immunity is low. Hence, if they get vaccinated during their period, instead of building antibodies against the virus, they might end up getting attacked by the virus.

Experts have emphasised that there is no relation between the process of vaccination and menstruation. Dr Munjaal Kapadia, gynaecologist at Namaha Hospital, spoke to the Quint:

“Firstly, periods do not have any impact on the immunity of a person. You can take the vaccine even during your periods. Periods have no effect on the vaccine. One should take the vaccine at the earliest. You are not supposed to delay your vaccine just because you are on your periods.”

Doctors also clarified that taking a vaccine doesn’t reduce the immunity of a person. “The claim that the immunity of the body decreases after taking the first dose of the vaccine is absolutely wrong,”Dr Jacob T John, former head of ICMR’s Centre for Advanced Research in Virology told the Quint.

Note: If you’re pregnant or lactating, please consult a doctor. While the union health ministry guidelines do not advise the vaccine, the Gynaecological Federation recommends the vaccine to both pregnant and lactating womxn, saying that the benefits of the vaccine to the mother and child outweigh its remote risk.

Credit: Getty Images

Myth 2: The vaccine can cause infertility in both women and men.

This is another myth around the vaccine doing rounds on social media. However, there have been no reports or evidence of infertility or sexual dysfunction as a proven side-effect of Covid vaccine. Union Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan also clarified this rumour at the launch of the vaccine drive in January and said that neither of the two vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, have been proved to cause infertility in men or women. Only an individual already pregnant has been advised to consult a doctor first.

Myth 3: I will get Covid-19 if I take the vaccine.

Many people have confused the temporary symptoms of mild fever, fatigue and nausea, among others, with getting the Covid-19 virus.

However, none of the Covid vaccines can give you Covid-19 infection as the virus used in the vaccine is not live. Once the impotent virus enters the body through the vaccine shot, the body builds immunity against it and can cause symptoms such as fever and fatigue. However, once our body builds antibodies to fight against any future exposure to the virus, the symptoms go away. This can take up to two weeks.

Note that it is possible to get infected if the virus enters the body before the vaccine has had the time to fully protect the individual.

Myth 4: If I have been infected by Covid once, I don’t need the vaccine

There is no proof that people who have been infected by the virus once cannot get infected again. Once a person has been infected, the body builds immunity to fight the virus for the next few weeks, but it wears off soon. Hence, once a person has fully recovered from Covid and are off the treatment, they can get themselves vaccinated to avoid getting infected again.

However, an important point to note here is that it is not recommended to get the Covid vaccination while one is infected with the virus.

Myth 5: Once I get fully vaccinated, I do not have to wear mask or maintain social distance.

child wearing mask

Many people believe that once they are fully vaccinated, they are 100% immune to the virus and won’t get infected. However, this is not true. While Covid vaccines are effective in lessening the chances of getting infected or getting critical when infected, vaccinated individuals canstill be Covid positive.

Another reason to continue with Covid precautions is to protect those around us. Although a vaccine is more likely to protect the vaccinated individual from getting infected, researchers still don’t know if the vaccinated can transmit the virus or not. Thus, it is better to still:

  • Continue wearing masks
  • Observe social distancing
  • Use sanitiser or soap
  • Avoid crowded places
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Not touch eyes, mouth or nose with unwashed or unsanitised hands

Who Should Not Take The Vaccine?

As India’s healthcare infrastructure crumbles with the rising number of cases every day and a vaccine is the only foreseeable method to eradicate the virus, not everyone has been recommended to take the vaccine. You must consult a doctor before taking the vaccine if you are: pregnant or lactating, undergoing any medication, have a history of allergic reactions or suffering from a chronic disease.

With these points in mind, come May 1 and India will be ready to partake in the third phase of its Covid vaccine drive, for which you can register using CoWIN or Aarogya Setu from April 28.

Featured image credit: Getty Images
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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