COVID-19 Vaccine Registration Now Open To Pregnant Women: Health Min
COVID-19: "Vaccination is useful for them and should be given," the Health Ministry said.
On 2 June, the Ministry of Home and Family Welfare (MoHFW) accepted NTAGI's (National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization) reccomendation to approve the vaccination of pregnant women against COVID-19.
Pregnant women can now register themselves to receive the jab on the CoWIN app or by walk-in registrations at their nearest COVID Vaccination Centers (CVC).
In a big win for pregnant women, the Centre on Friday, 25 June, had said that they can now be vaccinated against COVID-19, signaling the policy change amid growing concerns over their vulnerability to the virus.
Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) Chief Dr Balram Bhargava said the Ministry of Health has given the guidelines that Covid-19 vaccine should be given to pregnant women.
"Vaccination is useful for them and should be given," Dr Bhargava was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Until recently, lactating women were eligible for the vaccine but pregnant women were not. While many countries have begun vaccinating pregnant women, the government had been conservative in its approach, citing lack of clinical trial data.
Last month, the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) had recommended that pregnant women should not be excluded from inoculation after discussing the benefit versus risk of the vaccine in all stages of pregnancies.
It had said that the exposure probability is very high and therefore the benefit far outweighs the risk.
'Covid Vaccine Benefits Outweigh Risks'
Health experts across the world including the World Health Organisation (WHO), the US FDA and CDC, and the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI), almost unanimously assert that it is safe for pregnant and lactating women to take the COVID vaccines.
The WHO, recently, recommended Covid vaccination for pregnant women when the benefits outweigh the potential risks.
"To help pregnant women make this assessment, they should be provided with information about the risks of COVID-19 in pregnancy, the likely benefits of vaccination in the local epidemiological context, and the current limitations of safety data in pregnant women," it had said.
The UK National Health Services (NHS) has also announced that they will be allowing pregnant women to get vaccinated.
Experts Weigh in on Vaccination for Pregnant Women
Experts had been rallying for inoculating pregnant women against Covid and need for granular data.
Speaking to FIT, Amar Jesani, Editor of the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics had said, “Not including pregnant women in the clinical trials of COVID vaccines was ethically wrong as it was known that pregnant women do face a significant risk of infection."
Shutting them out of vaccine trials means delaying the vaccine and denying protection to a subgroup of people who fall in the high-risk category, experts said.
“Rather than complaining about the absence of data, we need to be generating our data. And that onus falls on us as a country. We have a large community of trained professionals and institutions where these studies can happen with priority," Dr Anant Bhan, Adjunct Professor & Researcher in Bioethics at Mangaluru’s Yenepoya University had said.
"Especially considering the stage of the pandemic we are currently in, it is imperative that anyone who is able to, gets vaccinated," Dr Bhan said.
However, experts said that extra steps such as close monitoring over a period of time will be needed to make up for the lack of safety data.
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