New Delhi : In a significant development, over 2.27 lakh pregnant women have received first dose of COVID-19 vaccine under the ongoing National COVID Vaccination drive. This can be seen as a result of regular counselling of the pregnant women by health workers and medical officers about risks of COVD-19 infection to pregnant women and benefits of COVID-19 vaccination. This sustained campaign has empowered pregnant women to make an informed choice on taking the COVID vaccination.
Tamil Nadu is leading the way by vaccinating over 78,838 pregnant women, followed by Andhra Pradesh with 34,228, Odisha with 29,821, Madhya Pradesh with 21,842, Kerala with 18,423 and Karnataka with 16,673 pregnant women.
As part of the campaign to allay fears, apprehensions, misinformed rumours and some social taboos and issues, a guidance note to assist the States in operationalizing the COVID vaccination programme for pregnant women was shared by the Union Health Ministry on 2nd July 2021. This was followed up by training of the programme managers, service providers and frontline health workers to equip them to counsel the pregnant women and their family during antenatal care about importance of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy. The States further sensitized their vaccination teams in the Government and private COVID Vaccination Centres regarding COVID vaccination for pregnant women.
Several initiatives have been taken by States to encourage pregnant women to be motivated for the vaccine, such as special vaccination sessions for the pregnant women. Counselling the eligible beneficiaries by the frontline workers and counsellors at the antenatal clinics, mobilization by ASHAs for vaccination and innovative practices like issue of certificate by Deputy Commissioner to the pregnant and lactating women who were first to get themselves vaccinated have resulted in building confidence and acceptance in the community.
Studies have shown that COVID-19 infection during pregnancy may result in rapid deterioration of health of pregnant women, escalating the increased risk of severe disease and it might affect the fetus too. Pregnant women with COVID-19 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 co-morbidities, advanced maternal age, and high Body Mass Index as factors for severe COVID-19 in pregnancy.