Based on recommendations from National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI), the Union Ministry of Health and family Welfare (MoHFW) today approved the vaccination of pregnant women against COVID-19. The decision empowers pregnant women to make an informed choice on taking the COVID vaccination. The decision has been communicated to all the States/ UTs to implement it under the ongoing National COVID Vaccination Program.
India’s National COVID Vaccination program incorporates recommendations of the foremost experts in the field of immunization, public health, disease control and information technology. Based on scientific and epidemiological evidence, the programme gives priority to strengthening the country’s healthcare system by protecting the professionals, health and frontline workers, manning it, as well as protecting the most vulnerable population groups.
Till date, all groups except pregnant women were eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Now, it is expanded to even pregnant women in the world’s largest Immunization drive.
Studies have shown that COVID-19 infection during pregnancy may result in rapid deterioration of health of pregnant women and they are at an increased risk of severe diseases and it might affect fetus too. 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.
Further, 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. 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 Guideline for vaccination of pregnant women, Counselling kit for Medical Officers and FLWs, and IEC material for general public to equip the States/ UTs to carry out the vaccination of pregnant women. Pregnant woman, who opts for vaccination, can be vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccines available in the country 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 CVC. 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.