New Delhi: The healthcare infrastructure is facing an enormous burden due to the COVID pandemic. Vaccination against the virus will reduce the risk of infection, severity, long-term effect of the infection and transmission to other individuals. 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, say doctors, adding that every individual needs protection from the surging COVID-19 infections, and vaccination seems to be the best and long-term solution. Now all mothers-to-be can be protected from COVID-19. The benefits of vaccinating pregnant women seem to far outweigh any theoretical and remote risk of vaccination.
Sonal Kumta, Senior Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Fortis Hospital Mulund, and Manjiri Mehta, Consultant Gynaecologist & Obstetrician, Hiranandani Hospital Vashi, share a few things that pregnant women must know about vaccination.
THE NEED FOR PREGNANT WOMEN TO BE VACCINATED —
First, it is important to note that pregnancy does not increase the risk of COVID-19 infection. Most pregnant women will be asymptomatic or have a mild disease, but their health may deteriorate rapidly and that might affect the foetus. It is also important that they take all precautions to protect themselves from being infected, and that certainly includes vaccination against COVID-19. It is therefore advised that a pregnant woman should take the vaccine.
COVID-19 IMPACT ON PREGNANT WOMEN —
Although most (>90 per cent) 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 35 years, etc are at a higher risk.
RECOVERED PREGNANT WOMEN WITH COVID INFECTION —
Pregnant women who have recovered from COVID-19 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 COVID-19 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 COVID-19
- 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 COVID-19 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 COVID-19, 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 COVID-19 vaccine. There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccines, cause female or male fertility problems–problems getting pregnant. Most importantly, you cannot get COVID-19 infection from vaccination!