The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued fresh guidelines for administering the COVID-19 vaccine to pregnant women and stated that pregnancy does not increase the risk of novel coronavirus infection.
"Most pregnant women will be asymptomatic or have a mild disease, but their health may deteriorate rapidly and that might affect the foetus too. It is important that they take all precautions to protect themselves from acquiring COVID-19, including taking vaccination against COVID-19. It is therefore advised that a pregnant woman should take COVID-19 vaccines," reported news agency ANI citing quoting the health ministry’s statement on June 28.
Here the key points highlighted by the health ministry for COVID-19 vaccination among pregnant women:
- Women who fall in the high-risk category of getting coronavirus infection include – the one who is health care worker or a frontline worker; community having a high or increasing rate of COVID-19 infections; frequently exposed to people outside the household and difficulty in complying with social distancing if living in a crowded household.
- Among pregnant women getting COVID-19, most (90 percent) recover without any need for hospitalisation. However, rapid deterioration in health may occur in a few of them.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
- In case of severe disease, like all other patients, pregnant women shall also need hospitalization.
- 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.
- Women older than 35 years of age, obese women, having a pre-existing illness such as diabetes or high blood pressure, having a history of clotting in the limbs are at a higher risk of developing complications after COVID-19 infection.
- In case a woman has been infected with COVID-19 during the pregnancy, then she should be vaccinated soon after the delivery.
Follow our LIVE blog for the latest updates of the novel coronavirus pandemic
On the side-effects of COVID-19 vaccines among pregnant women, the ministry informed that the shots available are safe and vaccination protects them against COVID-19 illness/disease. “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,” it stated.
Also read | COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker | 52.76 lakh doses administered in India on June 28
Talking about the apprehensions regarding the baby's health, the ministry that more than 95 percent of newborns of COVID-19 positive mothers have been in good condition at birth. “Most (over 95 percent) newborns of COVID-19 positive mothers have been in good condition at birth. In some cases, COVID-19 infections in pregnancy may increase the possibility of premature delivery, the baby's weight might be less than 2.5 kg and in rare situations, the baby might die before birth,” it said.
The ministry advised all pregnant women to register themselves on the CoWIN portal or get themselves registered on-site at the COVID-19 vaccination centre.
Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.