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All you need to know about the approvals to vaccinate pregnant women against COVID19

Co-authored by Dr Sonal Kumta,& Dr Manjiri Mehta, 

COVID19 was declared as a global public health emergency by WHO on January 30, 2020, and later 11 March 2020 as a pandemic. The healthcare infrastructure is facing an enormous burden due to pandemic. Vaccination against COVID 19 will reduce the risk of infection, severity, long-term effect of the infection and transmission to other individuals.

At present COVISHIELD and COVAXIN vaccines are being used in India as a guard against COVID19. In a recent guideline, the government has approved the vaccination for pregnant women. This is a very progressive step as it will affect 50 million lives in India. Every individual needs protection from the surging COVID19 infections, and vaccination seems to be the best and long-term solution. Now all mothers-to-be can be protected from COVID19. The benefits of vaccinating pregnant women seem to far outweigh any theoretical and remote risk of vaccination. Here are few things that pregnant women must know:

pregnant women vaccination

THE NEED FOR PREGNANT WOMEN TO BE VACCINATED 

– First, it is important to note that pregnancy does not increase the risk of COVID19 infection. Most pregnant women will be asymptomatic or have a mild disease, but their health may deteriorate rapidly and that might affect the fetus.  It is also important that they take all precautions to protect themselves from being infected, and that certainly includes vaccination against COVID19.  It is therefore advised that a pregnant woman should take the COVID19 vaccine.

COVID-19 IMPACT ON PREGNANT WOMEN 

Although most (>90%) infected pregnant women recover without any need for hospitalization, rapid deterioration in health may occur in a few. Symptomatic pregnant women appear to be at an increased risk of severe disease and death. In case of severe disease, like all other patients, pregnant women shall also need hospitalization. Moreover, pregnant women with underlying medical conditions e.g., high blood pressure, obesity, age over 35yrs, etc. are at a higher risk.

RECOVERED PREGNANT WOMEN WITH COVID INFECTION –

Pregnant women who have recovered from COVID19 are eligible for vaccination. Among such individuals, vaccination should be differed for 12 weeks from the infection or 8 weeks after recovery.

SIDE EFFECTS OF THE VACCINES –

The available COVID19 vaccines are safe, and vaccination protects pregnant women against illness/disease like other individuals. Like any medicine, a vaccine may have side effects which are normally mild. After getting the vaccine injection, she can get a mild fever, pain at the injection site, or feel unwell for 1-3 days.

If you are confused about whether to receive a COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant, consider:

  • Your risk of exposure to COVID19
  • The risks of severe illness
  • The known benefits of vaccination
  • The limited but growing evidence about the safety of vaccinations during pregnancy

VACCINE REGISTRATION FOR PREGNANT WOMEN – 

All pregnant women need to register themselves on the CoWIN portal or may get themselves registered on-site at the COVID19 vaccination centre. The process of registration for pregnant women remains the same as of the general population and as per the latest guidance provided by the MoHFW. The need of the hour is to arrange for on-site consultation by Gynecologists, especially for those not registered for ante-natal (pre-delivery) care. We should also maintain a registry of vaccinated pregnant women for long-term follow-up and data collection.

PRECAUTIONS TO BE TAKEN –

  • Wear a double mask
  • Practice frequent handwashing
  • Maintain physical distance and avoid going to crowded places

Please note, if a pregnant woman has already had COVID19, she should be vaccinated soon after the delivery. Moreover, speak to your doctor and discuss all your doubts. Also, note that if you are trying to get pregnant now or in the future, would-be parents can receive the COVID19 vaccine. There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including the COVID19 vaccines, cause female or male fertility problems—problems getting pregnant. Most importantly, you cannot get COVID19 infection from vaccination!

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Dr Sonal Kumta, Senior Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Fortis Hospital Mulund and Dr Manjiri Mehta, Consultant Gynaecologist & Obstetrician, Hiranandani Hospital Vashi-A Fortis Network Hospital ~

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