July 22, 2021 1:17:16 am
After witnessing a spike in severe complications and mortality among pregnant women infected with Covid-19 during the second wave of the pandemic, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) plans to open one dedicated vaccination centre for pregnant women in each zone, this week.
The civic body took the decision as pregnant women with Covid infection are at a higher risk of pre-term labour, sepsis and even death as well as may face deterioration of their health, affecting the foetus.
“These seven vaccination centres — one in each zone — exclusively for pregnant women, will start operations this week. Details would be made public for city residents in a day or two,” said AMC medical officer of health, Dr Bhavin Solanki.
The need for separate Covid vaccination centres was also realised following feedback that long queues at vaccination centres was one of the reasons preventing pregnant women from getting vaccinated.
Pregnant women were initially excluded from Covid-19 vaccine trials due to safety concerns. Vaccination for them started based on National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) recommendations following approval by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
However, there is still hesitation and fear among pregnant women. “Very few pregnant women are taking vaccine despite our counselling as per the guidelines issued. They are scared that the vaccine may result in side effects and complications,” Dr Parul Shah, head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Dept at Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation-run SVP Hospital, told The Indian Express. She said that however, there is an increase in number of lactating mothers who are getting vaccinated.
Though there is no definite data on vaccination of pregnant women, Dr Solanki said, “The numbers are not high… Though pregnancy does not increase the risk of infection, it increases the risk of severe illness from Covid. For instance, it increases the risk of pre-term birth and other complications, increasing chances of neonatal morbidity and mortality,” he added.
Records reveal that pregnant women were affected more severely with a spike in mortality during the second wave. “Infections increased during the second wave, especially during the second trimester between 28-32 weeks, as against the first wave where there were not many cases,” said Dr Shah.
According to Shah, “During the first wave (nearly one year), around 330 pregnant women infected with Covid were admitted to the SVP Hospital but there was no mortality. During the second wave (nearly five months) there were 150 cases with 15 per cent mortality.” It means over 20 pregnant women infected with Covid died at SVP Hospital during the second wave.
As per the guidelines issued for vaccination of pregnant women, orientation and training of AMC’s health staff, including frontline workers and vaccinators, were conducted as preparation.
The health staff have been trained in counselling pregnant women and their families about the risks of Covid-19 in pregnancy as well as the benefits of vaccination and current limitation on safety data so that their families can make an informed decision on getting vaccinated, said an AMC health staffer involved with the programme.
The frontline workers will also make house visits to create awareness among pregnant women and to train their families in handling of Adverse Event following Immunisation (AEFIs).
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