NEW DELHI: The Centre on Friday accepted recommendations by the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization, paving way for the beginning of Covid vaccination for pregnant women, as they have found to be more susceptible to severe Covid disease.
The decision will empower pregnant women to make an informed choice on taking the Covid vaccination, said the Union Health Ministry.
The statement by the government does not clearly indicate what may be the best time for the vaccination during the pregnancy but many doctors say that the vaccination should be avoided in the first trimester.
Pregnant women, who opt for vaccination, can be vaccinated with any of the vaccines available in the country any time during their pregnancy at the nearest government or private vaccination centre after registration on CoWIN or by walk-in registration at the nearest centres, the ministry said.
The government said that studies have shown that the coronavirus infection during pregnancy may result in rapid deterioration of health of pregnant women and they are at an increased risk of severe diseases and it might affect foetuses too.
“The matter has been examined by domain knowledge experts based on the evidence that indicates that pregnant women are at an increased risk for severe illness from Covid19 compared to non-pregnant women in case they get infected,” the government said.
Also, said the government, pregnant women with the infection are at an increased risk for preterm birth and other adverse pregnancy outcomes including higher chances of neonatal morbidity.
Additionally, the experts have also highlighted pre-existing comorbidities, advanced maternal age, and high body mass Index as factors for severe Covid during pregnancy, said the government adding that the NTAGI recommendation was endorsed by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid.
The government also issued operational guidelines on vaccination for pregnant women saying that the WHO recommends vaccination in pregnant women when the benefits of vaccination to the pregnant woman outweigh the potential risks.
These include pregnant women who are at high risk of exposure to infection and those with comorbidities that place them in a high-risk group for severe disease.
In the guidelines, on a cautionary note, the health ministry also maintained that all adverse event following vaccination of pregnant women should be reported immediately into Co-WIN as the full impact of vaccines on pregnant women and unborn babies are yet to be understood.
It also said all AEFI should be reported immediately to the medical officer and the district immunisation officer concerned while obstetrician and gynecologist, pediatrician or neonatologist should be part of District AEFI Committee investigating all serious and severe AEFI cases.
It added that cytopathological examination of aborted or perinatal death if any occurring in vaccinated women should be carried out and causality assessment of all adverse events following Covid vaccination of pregnant women to be expedited.
Importantly, the government has recommended against Covid vaccination in pregnant women with the infection in the past who were treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma.
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