New Delhi / Mumbai, July 3, 2021
Dr. N.K. Arora, Chairperson of the COVID-19 Working Group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) spoke to DD News, on the vaccination guidelines for pregnant women, issued by the Health Ministry today.
A Question of the Safety of Two Lives
Dr. N K Arora informed that the increased mortality of pregnant women during the second wave of COVID-19 has led to this decision. "During the second wave, it was seen that mortality rates of pregnant women infected by COVID-19 had increased by two to three times, in comparison to the first wave. Under such a situation, it was felt that pregnant women should also become beneficiaries of the COVID-19 vaccine. In case of pregnant women, it involves the safety of two lives - the mother and the child in her womb. Hence, the country has decided to vaccinate pregnant women."
He stated that mothers will be benefitted more by this vaccine; they will remain free from fear and anxiety about coronavirus. “The child growing up in the mother's womb can also be saved by means of the pregnant mother's vaccination. If the mother develops immunity, it will be passed on to the foetus. The effect of the vaccine and immunity developed in the mother's body will remain in the child at least till the time of birth.”
Safety of Vaccines for Pregnant Women
In reply to a query on how safe vaccines will be for pregnant women, Dr. Arora pointed out that the whole world is now thinking that mothers should also be vaccinated because it will develop immunity not only in the mother's body, but also for the child. "By and large, our vaccines have been found to be safe. Even in western countries like in Europe and North America where mRNA vaccines are being given, pregnant women are being vaccinated. Looking at these facts and figures, a decision has been taken to vaccinate pregnant women in our country.”
Some people express doubts and fear about vaccinating a pregnant mother in the first trimester as the child's organs start forming in that period. Addressing these doubts, Dr.Arora has assured the safety of the vaccine for the mother as well as for the child. "I would like to dispel these fears and assure people that our vaccines do not contain any live virus which can cause infection. Thus, it does not seem that the vaccine will have any ill-effect on the child growing up in the mother's womb.”
He added that pregnant women receiving vaccines will be tracked, to ensure their safety. “All pregnant women who will be vaccinated around the country will be tracked by means of a network to monitor signs of discomfort. Foetal outcomes, that is, growth of the child in mother's womb, will also be monitored. This will assure us that our mothers, sisters and daughters are fully safe post-vaccination.”
Speaking about post-vaccination side-effects faced by pregnant women, Dr. Arora said: "One in 10 lakh women have experienced bleeding or formation of clots. The symptoms that manifest are severe headache, vomiting alongwith headache, stomachache along with vomiting tendency or also breathing problems. By and large, this sort of three or four symptoms may happen and generally it happens within a period of three to four weeks after vaccination. In such cases, family members should quickly take the pregnant woman to a hospital where vaccination is done. The reason for illness can be investigated at the hospital and required treatment can be provided to her."
When can Pregnant Women take the Vaccine dose?
Pregnant women can take the vaccine at any time, informs the Chairperson. "As per the decision taken, COVID-19 vaccine can be given to pregnant women at any point of time since detection of the pregnancy. It does not matter whether the vaccine is being given in the first, second or third trimester.”