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Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe For Pregnant Women? Govt Issues New Guidelines

With the COVID-19 outbreak continuing to rise around the globe, the anxiety around what the virus could mean for pregnant women is critical. According to CDC, pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19.

COVID-19, Vaccination And Pregnancy

While the overall risk of severe illness is low, pregnant people are at an increased risk for severe illness, which may require hospitalisation, intensive care, a ventilator or special equipment to breathe, or illness resulting in death.

Moreover, pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk of preterm birth. They might be at increased risk of other pregnancy-related adverse outcomes than pregnant women without COVID-19 [1]. Based on how these vaccines work in the body, experts believe they are unlikely to pose a risk for people who are pregnant [2].

On Monday, the Union Health Ministry issued new guidelines for administering the COVID-19 vaccine to pregnant women. The guidelines stated that pregnancy does not increase the risk of COVID-19 infection and has advised all pregnant women to register themselves on the Co-WIN portal or get themselves registered on-site at the COVID-19 vaccination centre [3].

Guidelines For Administering COVID-19 Vaccines To Pregnant Women

  • Most pregnant women will be asymptomatic or have mild disease. Still, 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.
  • Women who fall in the high-risk category include 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 complying with social distancing if living in a crowded household.
  • Suppose a pregnant woman gets infected with the virus, although most (90 per cent) infected pregnant women recover without any need for hospitalisation. In that case, 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 hospitalisation.
  • Pregnant women with underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, age over 35 years are at a higher risk of severe illness due to COVID-19.
  • Most (over 95 per cent) newborns of COVID-19 positive mothers have been in good health 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.
  • 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.
  • If a woman has been infected with COVID-19 during the current pregnancy, she should be vaccinated soon after the delivery.
  • Regarding the safety of the vaccines, the ministry said that vaccines available are safe and vaccination protects pregnant women against COVID-19.
  • A vaccine may have side effects, which are normally mild - like any other medicine. In most cases, the woman may 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 are not established yet.
  • In extremely rare cases (one in 100,000-500,000), pregnant women may experience some of the following symptoms within 20 days after getting the Covid-19 vaccination, requiring immediate attention.

On A Final Note...

The Union health 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.

Story first published: Tuesday, June 29, 2021, 13:00 [IST]