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Monday, June 14, 2021

Lactating, pregnant women who give consent can walk-in for Covid-19 vaccination

The BMC issued a circular late Monday night allowing lactating mothers and pregnant women to skip registering an online slot and get preference along with specially abled persons and senior citizens in vaccination centres.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai |
Updated: May 25, 2021 11:19:14 am
In the first wave, doctors have noted that fatality of Covid positive pregnant women and those who had delivered was rare as compared to the second wave.

After a central government directive, the BMC on Monday allowed lactating women to get themselves inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine without pre-registration. The civic body went a step ahead and has allowed all pregnant women to get immunised if they get a gynaecologist’s certificate and give a consent form for vaccination.

The BMC issued a circular late Monday night allowing lactating mothers and pregnant women to skip registering an online slot and get preference along with specially abled persons and senior citizens in vaccination centres. They can visit a vaccination centre on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday for their jab.

The Union Health Ministry has not allowed vaccination for pregnant women. Until Monday evening, BMC had planned to only immunise only lactating women. “A call was taken by higher level officials later at night to also allow pregnant women. If they are willing to give consent for a jab and can procure a certificate from their gynaecologist, they can walk into any centre. This form will be submitted at vaccination centre,” a senior BMC health official said, adding that there was discussion on whether to stray away from central government guideline or to stick with immunisation of only lactating women.

On May 19, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to all states to allow lactating women to undergo vaccination.

On Monday, civic officials said that women who have delivered a baby within six months are eligible for walk-in vaccination. Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said, “We have a walk-in facility for senior citizens, people slated for their second dose, and people with physical disabilities. Eligible women will be allowed to join that queue.”

In the first wave, doctors have noted that fatality of Covid positive pregnant women and those who had delivered was rare as compared to the second wave. Dr Ganesh Shinde, head of gynaecology in Mumbai’s Nair hospital, which performed maximum deliveries of Covid positive women in the city, said they noted 12 deaths last year in Covid-infected pregnancy and post-delivery. “Until last year most women were asymptomatic. This year they are coming to us with full-blown pneumonia. We have recorded around 40 deaths till now,” Shinde said.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended vaccination for pregnant women, associating them with high risk of severity during pregnancy. “Pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk of preterm birth and might be at increased risk of other adverse pregnancy outcomes compared with pregnant women without COVID-19,” the CDC observed.

Dr Smita Mahale, former director of ICMR’s National Institute of Research in Reproductive Health, said vaccination may soon be allowed for pregnant women after cautious study by central expert committees in India. Mahale is part of PregCovid registry, an initiative of the government of Maharashtra to track pregnant women affected by Covid-19. “We are seeing more abortions, foetal deaths, severity in pregnant women due to Covid-19 in this wave,” Mahale said.

According to WHO, pregnant or recently delivered women have more risk of severe covid infection if they are overweight, suffer hypertension or diabetes.

So far, the US and a few European countries have allowed pregnant women to get vaccinated. Animal studies of Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccines have found no safety concerns. A paper published in The New England Journal of Medicine ‘Preliminary Findings of mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine Safety in Pregnant Persons’ immunised 35,691 pregnant women with mRNA vaccine and observed no immediate safety concerns, although it advised follow-up.

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