All you need to know about COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy and new moms

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Covid-19 has made everyone's life harder, with the first and second wave, lockdowns, unemployment, etc. This has been especially hard for pregnant women and new moms. The risk of having a severe illness because of Covid-19 is said to be higher in pregnant women, which can eventually lead to rapid deterioration of their health after contracting the virus. And not being able to get the vaccine and not having enough information about the vaccine was a reason for concern among pregnant women and new moms. Thankfully vaccinations are now available for pregnant women and new moms. 

So here's all you need to know about COVID-19 vaccinations for pregnancy and new moms.

WHO has recommended vaccinating pregnant women if they face a high risk of getting the virus and if they have comorbidities that place them in a high-risk group for severe COVID-19 disease.

After months of discussion, the Indian Government has finally allowed pregnant women to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Before that, they had announced in May that the vaccines are available to new moms (lactating or breastfeeding moms). To avoid more fatalities in pregnancy and new moms, they had given the green light for the vaccine. The government shared an operational guideline for vaccination in pregnancy. Only three COVID-19 vaccines are authorized in India - Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik. 

"Most pregnant women will be asymptomatic or have a mild disease, but their health may deteriorate rapidly and that might affect the fetus too. It is important that they take all precautions to protect themselves from acquiring Covid-19, including taking vaccination against Covid-19. It is therefore advised that a pregnant woman should take Covid-19 vaccines," the Union Health Ministry of India said in a statement.

This change was because of the high mortality rate that was seen in the second wave of covid. Research says that pregnant women and new moms were affected the highest because of the second wave. This was the main reason vaccination for new moms and pregnancy was authorized. 

How does the health of the moms get affected because of COVID-19?

According to the health ministry, 90 percent of infected pregnant women recover without the need for hospitalization.

"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 e.g, high blood pressure, obesity, age over 35 years are at a higher risk of severe illness due to Covid-19," the statement added. 

Also, pregnant women come more in contact with hospitals and frontline workers than an average person putting them more at risk for contracting the virus. Constant checkups throughout all their trimester and frequent checkups of the newborns compel them to take a precautionary step to reduce the risk.

Is it safe to take the vaccine?

For all the lactating and breastfeeding moms the greenlight for the vaccines was given way ahead before the vaccines for pregnant women. 

According to the ministry, all three vaccines available are said to be safe. They have also mentioned a risk to pregnant women and newborns is very unlikely. Like any medicine, a vaccine may have side effects which are normally mild. After getting the vaccine, the mother 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. Very rarely, (one in 1-5 lakh persons) the beneficiary may, after COVID 19 vaccination, experience some of the following symptoms within 20 days after getting the injection which may need immediate attention, the guidelines stated.

The vaccine is the best shot to fight the virus and it is also seen that pregnant mothers may pass on the antibodies to their newborn babies. Both the pregnant and new moms before and after the vaccine need to strictly follow the same guidelines and protocol that other people are following- sanitizing, double masking, etc. 

When to get vaccinated?

According to the health ministry, a pregnant woman can take the vaccine at any point in her pregnancy. And in case the mother gets infected before taking the vaccine, it is recommended she should get vaccinated soon after her delivery.

COVID-19 vaccines are also said to be safe for breastfeeding women/new moms. So there is no need to stop breastfeeding to take the vaccine.

Make sure to consult your doctor before taking any step. Remember to always follow the protocol and take precautionary steps. COVID-19 is a battle that everyone has to fight and to do our part we need to take the vaccine and follow the guidelines. Register yourself at the Co-WIN portal or the Aarogya Setu app or get registered on-site at the Covid-19 vaccination center to get vaccinated.

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