New Delhi: The Union Health Ministry issued fresh guidelines for administering COVID-19 vaccine to pregnant women.
The Union Health Ministry said 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 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,” the ministry said.
The ministry said the following fall in the high risk category of getting infection: someone who is a 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.
If a pregnant woman gets infected with the virus, the ministry said that although most (90 per cent) infected pregnant women recover without any need for hospitalisation, 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. Pregnant women with underlying medical conditions e.g, high blood pressure, obesity, age over 35 years are at a higher risk of severe illness due to COVID-19.
Further answering the apprehensions regarding the baby’s health, the ministry informed that most (over 95 per cent) 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 a pre-mature delivery, the baby’s weight might be less than 2.5 kg and in rare situations, the baby might die before birth.
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 current pregnancy, then she should be vaccinated soon after the delivery.
Answering whether COVID-19 vaccines have any side effects, the ministry informed that the COVID-19 vaccines available are safe and vaccination protects pregnant women 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. The long-term adverse effects and safety of the vaccine for foetus and child is not established yet. Very rarely (one in 1-5 lakh persons), pregnant women may experience some of the following symptoms within 20 days after getting the COVID-19 vaccination which may require immediate attention.
In order to protect themselves and those around from spreading the COVID-19 infection, you must counsel the pregnant woman and her family members to continue practising the COVID-19 appropriate behaviours.
Union Ministry advised all pregnant women to register themselves on the Co-WIN portal or 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 Union Health Ministry from time to time