Explained By Doctors : Pregnant Women And COVID-19 Vaccination

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Pregnant Women and the COVID Vaccination fear: Several vaccination centres in areas other than metropolitan cities have reported vaccine hesitancy among pregnant women. This has also made several state governments initiate vaccine awareness drives targeted at pregnant women. Some centres are having dedicated days where they make it a priority to vaccinate pregnant women.

Initially, when there was little data about the adverse effects of COVID-19 in pregnant women, the government of India had exempted pregnant women from vaccination. But even after declaring them eligible, pregnant women in tier two, tier three cities and especially the rural areas are seen to be reluctant in getting the vaccine.

SheThePeople reached out to Dr Bhavna Chaudhary practising Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Max Hospital, Delhi and Dr Sudeshna Ray, a Mumbai-based Gynaecologist and Obstetrician. They answered some questions by pregnant women regarding COVID-19 vaccination.

The doctors have stated that vaccination cannot be forced on anyone, only awareness can be spread. The aim of healthcare workers and government bodies at this point in time is to provide proper knowledge to pregnant women so that they can make an informed decision about COVID-19 vaccination.

What are the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination in pregnant women? 

Pregnant women are at the same level of risk of getting COVID-19 but it has been seen that after getting an infection a pregnant woman’s chances of developing severe complications, her chances of getting hospitalised are higher compared to other individuals.

This has been proved by worldwide data and even the Indian government data, especially during the second wave. That is why vaccination is recommended to them so that they can avoid such complications.

How much does the COVID-19 virus and vaccine affect the baby in the womb? 

In utero transfer to the baby has not been proven by data but some studies show that the virus has been detected in the placenta. The chances of the virus going through the fetus and causing the infection are still not confirmed. In some isolated cases we have seen the baby in a mother’s womb getting infected but mostly the infection has been seen in newborns as they get in contact with COVID-19 infected mothers after delivery.

There is no proof of the COVID-19 virus or the vaccine causing abnormality in the foetus.

Which vaccine should a pregnant woman take?

In India, we have Covaxin which is an inactivated vaccine, Covishield and lately, the Sputnik vaccine also got approved. The last two are viral vector-based vaccines. In the initial data, Covishield showed a slight increase in reported cases of thromboembolic phenomena( blood clotting) but the risk and benefits ratio still goes very much in favour of vaccination.

The government of India has been recommended both Covishield and Covaxin. But in cases where a pregnant woman is at high risk such as severe diabetes, previous history of heart disease, severe preeclampsia, Covaxin is recommended.

When can a pregnant woman get vaccinated?

After a lot of research and analysis of data, the government has come out with the guidelines and according to that pregnant women can the vaccine at any point of pregnancy. Any trimester is safe for vaccination.

In the case of pregnant women who are already infected by COVID-19, vaccination should either be done right after delivery or after three months.

Consult your doctor: 

It is vital for pregnant women to consult their gynaecologist before getting vaccination as their doctors would know about the actual status of their health. If a woman is at high risk, their doctors can give provide them with a note stating their risk factor which can be shown at vaccination centres.

Suggested Readings: 

Health Ministry Issues Guidelines For Vaccination Of Pregnant Women: What You Should Know

“Important For Pregnant Women To Get Vaccinated”: VK Paul

COVID-19 Vaccine Should Be Given To Pregnant Women, Says ICMR