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COVID-19: Pregnant And Thinking Of Getting Vaccinated? Here’s What Government Guidelines Say About Safety, Side-Effects

Accepting the recommendations from the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has approved vaccination of pregnant women against COVID-19 stressing that they should get themselves inoculated

COVID-19: Pregnant And Thinking Of Getting Vaccinated? Here’s What Government Guidelines Say About Safety, Side-Effects

New Delhi: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) announced on July 2 that women who are pregnant can now take the vaccine against COVID-19. The Union Health Ministry said that it has made the decision based on the recommendations of the expert panel National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI). As it expands the eligibility criteria to help protect expecting mothers and their unborn babies from the disease, MoHFW said that the available Covid vaccines are useful for pregnant women, and they should get vaccinated. So, if you are pregnant and thinking of getting vaccinated, here is what the government says about the safety and side-effects in its operational guidance for COVID-19 vaccination of pregnant women.

Watch: How Has COVID-19 And Lockdown Affected Children, Pregnant Women And Lactating Mothers?

When Should Pregnant Women Get Vaccinated And Why

According to the Union Health Ministry’s guidelines, expectant mothers can get vaccinated at any point of time during their pregnancy. It says that pregnant women are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant women if they get infected.

The Ministry added in the guidelines that pregnant women with COVID-19 are at increased risk for preterm birth and might have an increased risk of other adverse pregnancy outcomes including higher chances of neonatal morbidity. Pregnant women who have advanced maternal age or obesity or high body mass index and those with pre-existing co-morbidities like Diabetes or organ transplant or respiratory diseases or heart diseases among others are at a high risk of developing complications after COVID-19 infection.

Weighing the risk versus benefit ratio, the Union Health Ministry recommends pregnant women to come forward and inoculate themselves soon.

The guidelines also specify that in case a woman has been infected with COVID-19 during the current pregnancy, then she should be vaccinated soon after the delivery.

Adverse Events Following Immunization Of Pregnant Women

The guidelines direct vaccinators to inform women in reproductive age about adverse events following immunization (AEFI).

The full impact of Covid vaccine on pregnancy outcomes for mother and fetus as well as for newborn is still unclear. Therefore, pregnant women require special considerations and systematic reporting of AEFI, the guidance document said.

Obstetrician and gynaecologist, paediatrician or neonatologist to be included in AEFI committees.
According to the guidance document, like any medicine, a vaccine may have side effects which are normally mild like fever, pain at the injection site, feeling unwell for about 1-3 days. Very rarely, pregnant women may experience some of the following symptoms within 20 days after getting the injection which may need immediate attention:

– Shortness of breath
– Chest pain
– Pain in limbs or swelling in the limbs (arm or calf)
– Small haemorrhages or bruising of the skin beyond the vaccination site
– Persistent abdominal pain
– Seizures
– Severe and persistent headaches
– Weakness/paralysis of limbs or any particular side of the body
– Persistent vomiting without any obvious reason
– Blurred vision/pain in eyes

Also Read: Pregnant Women Can Be Vaccinated Against COVID-19, Says Union Health Ministry

Contraindications For Vaccination During Pregnancy

On any specific contraindications for vaccination in pregnancy, the guidelines state that as for the general population, pregnant women also should avoid vaccination in conditions such as anaphylactic or allergic reaction to the previous dose of COVID-19 vaccine, anaphylaxis or allergic reaction to vaccines or injectable therapies, pharmaceutical products, among others.

How Will Pregnant Women Get Their Jab

The guidelines say that modality for registration of beneficiaries, reporting of vaccination, generation of certificate and others remains the same as the general population. This implies that pregnant women who are above 18 years of age can choose to register on CoWIN (Covid Vaccine Intelligence Work) portal or walk into the nearest Covid vaccination centre to get themselves inoculated.

Pregnancy and COVID-19 Vaccination: What Do Experts Have To Say

Commenting on the concerns related to the safety of vaccines for pregnant women and the timeframe in which the jab needs to be taken during the pregnancy, Dr Gaayatri Juneja, Gynecologist, Apollo Cradle Hospital said,

Earlier the guideline was that if pregnant women are to be vaccinated, we should vaccinate them after three months of the pregnancy, but now, the latest guideline has come. In animals, at least the studies have shown that the vaccine is not affecting the embryo or the fetus. So, it is safe to take the vaccine anytime in pregnancy. The earlier the pregnant woman takes the vaccine, the better.

However, Dr Juneja added that according to WHO’s guidelines on vaccination if a woman has an active infection, she should not take the vaccine for 12 weeks after the infection or 4-8 weeks after recovering from it.

While talking about the evidence showcasing benefits of the Covid vaccine for pregnant women, Dr Suneela Garg, Member, Lancet Commission of the Covid India Taskforce and Director and Professor of the Community Medicine of the Maulana Azad Medical College and advisor to ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) said,

Now we have enough data as a lot of pregnant women have been immunised against the Covid in the country and globally. We have seen in the second wave particularly that pregnant women who got infected got a severe infection. So, the woman needs to make a choice between the disease and the vaccination which is preventing the disease. If a woman has Covid infection, then she can give birth to low-birth-weight babies (born with less than 2.5 kgs weight) and also have preterm birth, which are already very prominent in the country. Vaccines are safe and that is why the decision has been taken to inoculate pregnant women. World Health Organisations’ Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation also recommend that pregnant women must take the vaccine because the positive effects of vaccines outweigh the adverse effects.

Also Read: How Has COVID-19 And Lockdown Affected Children, Pregnant Women And Lactating Mothers?

Explaining why pregnant women are at greater risk of severe illness and mortality due to COVID-19 as compared to other women, Dr Ritu Petkar Palve, Gynecologist, SL Raheja Hospital said,

What happens in the pregnancy is that it is a condition where the woman has more chances of getting the infection as compared to the non-pregnant woman because her immunity during this time is low. So, getting vaccinated is extremely important. It is the best armour against Covid. There can be some normal side-effects like pain at the site area or some drowsiness but nothing that will last over 3-4 days or that which cannot be managed. Keep your doctors in the loop and take the jab because the benefits outweigh the risks hugely.

While the Central government’s guidelines remain silent on the long-term risk assessment of the vaccine on pregnant women and their children, Dr Palve said,

Currently, there are no long-term studies because the disease itself is about two years old. We are still looking into the picture, but vaccines are lifesaving and will help pregnant women save themselves during this pandemic.

In the United States of America, the Centres of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also encourages pregnant women to get the vaccine shot and says that the group is at a higher risk of severe illness from Covid-19 and initial studies have not identified any concerns about the safety of the shots so far. Apart from the USA, other countries like Australia, the United Kingdom (UK), Canada and Israel have also included pregnant women in their vaccination drives.

Also Read: Pregnant, Postpartum Women More Severely Affected During Second Covid Wave Than First: ICMR Study

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

22,70,55,138Cases
18,97,86,461Active
3,25,98,424Recovered
46,70,253Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 22,70,55,138 and 46,70,253 have died; 18,97,86,461 are active cases and 3,25,98,424 have recovered as on September 17, 2021 at 5:36 am.

India

3,33,81,728 34,403Cases
3,39,0563,867Active
3,25,98,424 37,950Recovered
4,44,248 320Deaths
In India, there are 3,33,81,728 confirmed cases including 4,44,248 deaths. The number of active cases is 3,39,056 and 3,25,98,424 have recovered as on September 17, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,11,525 3,595

52,893 310

63,20,310 3,240

1,38,322 45

Kerala

44,46,228 22,182

1,86,754 4,559

42,36,309 26,563

23,165 178

Karnataka

29,65,191 1,108

16,202 282

29,11,434 808

37,555 18

Tamil Nadu

26,40,361 1,693

16,756 120

25,88,334 1,548

35,271 25

Andhra Pradesh

20,34,786 1,367

14,708 105

20,06,034 1,248

14,044 14

Uttar Pradesh

17,09,628 23

193 11

16,86,549 11

22,886 1

West Bengal

15,59,567 707

8,025 25

15,32,922 725

18,620 7

Delhi

14,38,373 28

409 5

14,12,880 22

25,084 1

Odisha

10,18,298 580

5,335 105

10,04,845 681

8,118 4

Chhattisgarh

10,04,988 31

352 2

9,91,077 29

13,559

Rajasthan

9,54,230 4

103 1

9,45,173 5

8,954

Gujarat

8,25,677 22

149 0

8,15,446 22

10,082

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,374 7

119 5

7,81,738 12

10,517

Haryana

7,70,697 9

327 8

7,60,562 17

9,808

Bihar

7,25,864 12

72 6

7,16,134 6

9,658

Telangana

6,62,785 259

5,282 43

6,53,603 301

3,900 1

Punjab

6,01,180 30

314 11

5,84,399 38

16,467 3

Assam

5,97,074 468

5,381 15

5,85,914 479

5,779 4

Jharkhand

3,48,102 6

102 8

3,42,867 14

5,133

Uttarakhand

3,43,330 20

284 12

3,35,657 32

7,389

Jammu And Kashmir

3,27,466 170

1,421 72

3,21,630 98

4,415

Himachal Pradesh

2,16,430 127

1,568 82

2,11,215 206

3,647 3

Goa

1,75,183 95

699 1

1,71,195 96

3,289

Puducherry

1,25,170 107

963 63

1,22,380 42

1,827 2

Manipur

1,17,913 216

2,614 7

1,13,478 219

1,821 4

Tripura

83,787 31

427 26

82,553 56

807 1

Meghalaya

78,958 229

1,804 140

75,784 86

1,370 3

Mizoram

76,591 1,121

13,888 85

62,449 1,202

254 4

Chandigarh

65,168 4

31 2

64,319 2

818

Arunachal Pradesh

53,990 47

536 9

53,183 56

271

Sikkim

30,802 64

775 28

29,648 36

379

Nagaland

30,763 32

505 14

29,610 44

648 2

Ladakh

20,631 6

41 1

20,383 5

207

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,670

5 0

10,661

4

Lakshadweep

10,353

4 0

10,298

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,595 3

15 2

7,451 1

129

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