Guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination of pregnant women issued
The Union Health Ministry has prepared a fact sheet to guide frontline workers and vaccinators on counseling pregnant women about the value and precautions of the COVID-19 vaccine so that they can make an informed decision. All pregnant women need to register themselves on the Co-WIN portal or may get themselves registered on-site at the COVID-19 vaccination center. Here are the new guidelines.
In few cases, COVID-19 might affect the fetus
The document said, "Although more than 90% infected pregnant women recover without any need for hospitalization, rapid deterioration in health may occur in a few and that might affect the fetus also. It is, therefore, advised that a pregnant woman should take COVID-19 vaccine." However, the document stressed that pregnancy does not increase the risk of COVID-19 infection.
Symptomatic pregnant women at increased risk of severe disease
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 like high blood pressure, obesity, age over 35 years are at a higher risk of severe illness due to COVID-19," the fact sheet said.
Frontline workers will counsel pregnant women
According to the document, a frontline worker or a vaccinator needs to counsel pregnant women about the availability, value, and precautions of the COVID-19 vaccine. The note is structured in the form of questions-answers to make it easier for frontline workers to inform pregnant women and their families about the most important issues related to COVID-19 vaccination in pregnant women.
Infection can result in premature delivery
The note stated that over 95% of 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 premature delivery, the baby's weight might be less than 2.5kg and in rare situations, the baby might die before birth," it said.
Long-term adverse effects on fetus and child unknown
The document said, "Like any medicine, a vaccine may have side effects which are normally mild. After getting the vaccine injection, a pregnant woman 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 fetus and child are not established yet," it added.
In rare cases, some women might need medical attention
"Very rarely (one in 1-5 lakh persons), the pregnant women may experience some symptoms within 20 days after getting the COVID-19 vaccination which may require immediate attention," the document said.
Symptoms to watch for after over 20 days of vaccination
The symptoms occurring within 20 days after COVID-19 vaccination may include—shortness of breath, persistent abdominal pain with/without vomiting, and pain in limbs/pain on pressing limbs/swelling in the limb. It also includes small pinpoint hemorrhages/bruising of skin beyond the injection site, weakness/paralysis of limbs/any particular side of the body, severe and persistent headaches with/without vomiting (without a history of migraine), and seizures with/without vomiting.
Important for women and family to follow COVID-19 appropriate behavior
The document said, "To protect themselves and those around from spreading the COVID-19 infection, pregnant woman and her family members should practice COVID-19 appropriate behavior like wearing a double mask, practicing frequent hand hygiene and maintaining physical distance and avoid crowded places."