Pregnant women are now eligible to get vaccination shots against COVID-19, the Union Health Ministry announced on Friday. The decision has been taken based on the recommendations of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) and all the states and UTs have been directed to implement it.
Pregnant women, who opt for inoculation, can be vaccinated at any time during their pregnancy at the nearest Government or Private COVID-19 Vaccination Center (CVC) after registration on CoWIN or by walk-in registration at the nearest centre, the health ministry said.
Until now, all groups except pregnant women were eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Now the inoculation programme has been expanded to cover even pregnant women in the world’s largest immunization drive.
The Health Ministry said that the matter has been examined by domain knowledge experts based on the evidence that indicate that pregnant women are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant women in case they get infected.
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.
The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) has recommended vaccination for pregnant women. The National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) too has unanimously recommended it, the health ministry statement added.
Further, a national level Consultation on COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant women was also convened by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to build consensus on COVID Vaccination of pregnant women. The consultation unanimously welcomed the recommendation of NTAGI to vaccinate pregnant women. The consultation included professional bodies like FOGSI, representatives of State Governments, CSOs, NGOs, Development Partner agencies, technical experts etc.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has accepted these recommendations and prepared an Operational Guidelines for vaccination of pregnant women, Counselling kit for Medical Officers and FLWs, and IEC material for the general public to equip the States/ UTs to carry out the vaccination of pregnant women.
The procedures and modalities of COVID-19 vaccination like registration, generation of certificates after vaccination etc. will remain the same as it is for any beneficiaries above 18 years of age under the National COVID Vaccination Program.