While the Union Health Ministry had recently stated pregnant women “can and should” get the Covid vaccine, it has now been learnt that they are, in fact, eligible and can register on CoWIN or walk-in to the nearest vaccination centre to inoculated. It is believed the ministry gave the approval based on recommendations of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI).
Additionally, the decision has already been communicated to all states and union territories. It will now be implemented under the ongoing National Covid Vaccination Program, a statement read.
The ministry’s factsheet to guide frontline workers and vaccinators on counselling pregnant women about the value and precautions of the COVID-19 vaccine, states one should make an informed decision.
Although more than 90 per cent infected pregnant women recover without any need for hospitalisation, rapid deterioration in health may occur in a few and that might affect the foetus also, the document said. “It is, therefore, advised that a pregnant woman should take COVID-19 vaccine,” it read, reported PTI.
As per the factsheet, the COVID-19 vaccines which are available are safe and vaccination protects pregnant women against COVID-19 illness/disease like other individuals.
Earlier, the Health Ministry had said, “women who are pregnant or not sure of their pregnancy…should not receive COVID-19 vaccine” since they had not been part of any COVID vaccine trials. Following the recent National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) meeting on May 28, it has been recommended that pregnant women should also be vaccinated since “exposure probability is very high” and that the “benefit far outweighs the risk”.
However, NTAGI recommended the following safety precautions for pregnant women:
*They should be fully informed that “the long-term adverse reactions and the safety of the vaccine for foetus and child are not yet established.”
*It is recommended that they follow the 30 minutes of in-hospital observation rule post-vaccination.
COVID-19 vaccine can be provided any time during pregnancy, it further said.
Dr Nupur Gupta, director, department of obstetrics and gynaecology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram, warned that pregnant women can get vaccinated only after consultation with their gynaecologist. “Vaccination for COVID 19 during pregnancy has been given a nod in India after what we have experienced during the second wave. It will be of great benefit to get themselves vaccinated. However, it should be in consultation with their gynaecologist with an informed consent explaining the pros and cons of the emergency approval given the current pandemic situation,” she told indianexpress.com.
Talking about the need for getting vaccinated, Dr Gupta added, “It will especially be useful for pregnant women with comorbidities and those who are at high risk for exposure due to their work.”
However, according to the factsheet said, “Pregnant women with underlying medical conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, age over 35 years are at a higher risk of severe illness due to COVID-19.”
“We still don’t have trials on the vaccines that are available in India. But since pregnant women account for a large segment of our population (five per cent), it is worthwhile to get them vaccinated. Pregnant women now have a choice and can take their own decision in consultation with their doctor,” the doctor said.