Pregnant women in India can now get Covid vaccination

Pregnant women in India can now get Covid vaccination

 Rinda Angom

The Health Ministry has accepted NTAGI’s recommendations and pregnant women are now allowed to get vaccinated. They can now register on the Cowin platform and walk in to their nearest centre to get the jab. The Health Ministry said all vaccines available and approved by the centre are safe for both lactating and pregnant women.

In an interview regarding the vaccination for pregnant women on RStv, here’s what Dr Alka Kriplani and Dr Yk Gupta have to say about it.

Dr Alka Kriplani, (Head Minimally Invasive Gynaecology, Paras Hospitals Gurgaon) said that it’s a very much needed move because pregnant women are low in immunity, they are more susceptible to the virus as they have to go out and go for check-ups to the doctors. She has been a president of FOGSI and said that FOGSI and all other associations have been constantly requesting the government and now they are really thankful to them for approving the vaccination for pregnant women which is a game-changer and life-saving for them.

Prof. YK Gupta (Member of NEGVAC) also appreciated the move and said that earlier there was apprehension and it wasn’t decided whether pregnant women should get it or not. But now after getting all the information and more details, a safety assessment has been done and now it has been found that both the vaccine (Covishield and Covaxin) are safe to be given to pregnant women. However, it is also said a long term follow up may be recommended. It has also been made clear that women with comorbidities are also safe to be given. But it’s always good to consult their physicians before getting the vaccination so as to clear any of their doubts.

The doses of the vaccination, the frequency of the vaccination and keeping a watch for an hour or half an hour is essentially the same. So now pregnant women should not have any apprehension about taking the jab.

Here are few things for pregnant women to know who are still apprehensive of getting the Covid vaccination

When should a woman get vaccinated if infected with Covid-19 during her pregnancy? 

Dr Alka said the guidelines are the same for pregnant women as the guidelines for non-pregnant or other individuals that they should wait for three months after the recovery. It applies the same for lactating women also. She also said that there is sufficient data from the US and UK on vaccinating women and all the data shows they are safe and helpful and taking advantage of this information, pregnant women should no longer be apprehensive about taking the jab. And considering how the second wave has affected and if the Covid does not go, pregnant and lactating women should take the vaccination.

Will there be any side effects after the vaccination?

To this, Dr YK Gupta said that there shouldn’t be any apprehension as the decision has been taken on the basis of data availability in respect of both the vaccines. However, he still recommends long-term follow-ups which are just regular follow-ups like antenatal checkups.

Are pregnant women with Covid-19 at increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes?

Dr Alka said that pregnancy is an immuno-compromised state, if they go into labour, it’s distressing their respiratory may be severe. Somebody pregnant and active with Covid shouldn’t go into labour because it will be at risk for the patient and difficult for the obstetrician to take care of the Covid positive patient. So,  pregnant women with Covid positive will have respiratory complications and two lives will be at stake including the baby. 

Can pregnant women pass the virus to their babies during pregnancy and during delivery?

According to Dr Alka, by and large, the answer is no but some studies say the virus was detected in the umbilical cord or placenta. However, none of the studies has proven that the virus gets transmitted through the mother. She asserts firmly that the answer is no.

What happens when pregnant women take the vaccine?

Dr Alka said the Covid vaccine will give triple protection, antibodies cross the placenta and the baby is protected for six months and is very protective for the foetus. And if given to the lactating mother, it will pass through breastfeeding and will protect the baby for six months. So it’s advantageous for both the baby and the mother.

What about women who are planning to get pregnant?

Dr Alka said that it is not going to affect their fertility, their fertility treatment, it’s not going to affect if the woman is pregnant and they should rather see the advantages and the disadvantages, benefits vs risks and their vaccination is not advocated to be delayed any further.

What are the precautions to be taken by pregnant women for the third wave?

Dr Alka responded to this saying that we don’t know the future but we should be wise by our experiences and failures, we should learn from the experiences of other countries. So we should be prepared for the third wave if it’s coming. All pregnant women and would-be mothers should get vaccinated so if the third wave comes we don’t witness the morbidity and mortality the second wave gave. 

How do pregnant women manage anxiety and depression?

Dr Alka said that it’s a very pertinent question and not many have asked her and how pregnant women are just told to get vaccinated or to take care but don’t know what is going through in a pregnant woman’s mind. She is protective of her child, she is fearful so she should have some psychological counselling, it’s the duty of obstetricians and gynaecologists to spend more time explaining to them how to avoid Covid, how to get vaccinated as there are so many myths going around vaccination. So it’s the duty of all healthcare providers to give special time in counselling to the would-be pregnant and the pregnant women to get relieve from their anxiety. 

Dr Alka also mentioned the importance of following safety protocols, like social distancing, wearing masks etc. It’s better to be precautious rather than feel sorry.