Pregnant women are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination, walk-in allowed
Pregnant women in India are now eligible to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, the central government said on Friday, marking a major policy shift in the national inoculation program. Expectant mothers can now register on the digital Co-WIN platform or walk in to their nearest COVID-19 vaccination center to get the jab. Government says it has shared the rules with states for the directive.
Approval based on recommendations of NTAGI
The government approval is based on the recommendations of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI). Pregnant women, who decide to take the jab, can be inoculated any time during their pregnancy, according to the government guidelines. Procedures like online registration and issuance of vaccination certificates remain the same as for other eligible beneficiaries, the government added.
Ill-effects on the child are unlikely: NTAGI chief
"Pregnant women can take the vaccine at any time since detection of the pregnancy. It does not seem that vaccine will have any ill-effect on the child...If the mother develops immunity, it will be passed on to the foetus," NTAGI chief Dr. NK Arora said.
What was the government's stance earlier?
Earlier, lactating women were eligible for the coronavirus vaccine even as pregnant women were kept out of the program. For that decision, the government had cited a lack of safety data since vaccine trials do not usually include pregnant women as participants. However, experts have since noted that benefits of COVID-19 vaccines far outweigh their risks for all adults, including pregnant women.
How is the vaccination drive going in India?
Since starting its coronavirus vaccination program in January, India has administered more than 34 crore vaccine doses. Over 42 lakh doses were given in the past 24 hours. Even though over 20% of Indians have received at least one vaccine shot, just above 4% have been fully inoculated as yet. Further, vaccinations have dropped sharply since hitting a record on June 21.
India's coronavirus situation
India had faced the world's worst coronavirus outbreak over the past couple of months. Daily cases in the country had peaked at 4,14,000 in early May. The situation has since improved, with new infections hovering around 50,000 over the past few days. India's death toll has crossed four lakh. However, several experts have warned that a third wave could hit India by October.