Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease that has spread rapidly throughout the world. In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. Since then the pandemic has severely impacted health systems, economic and social progress throughout the world. In this article, we will learn whether vaccination of pregnant woman or breastfeeding mothers is safe or not?
COVID-19 is caused by a newly discovered coronavirus now named as the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Coronaviruses (CoV) are zoonotic, and are transmitted between animals and humans. Coronaviruses cause diseases such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and more mild illnesses including the common cold. (Home remedies of cold in kids)
The most common signs of infection with COVID-19 include fever, dry cough (Home remedies for cough), shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing, and tiredness or fatigue. Though most people (~80%) experience mild disease and recover without requiring hospitalization. However, globally, around 20% of people who contract COVID-19 become seriously ill and have trouble breathing. Also, in more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even lead to death. (Reference: MoHFW)
Vaccination and pregnant WOMAN:
COVID-19 infection during pregnancy may result in rapid deterioration of health of pregnant women and could also affect the foetus. Based on the recommendations from National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI), MoHFW has approved vaccination of pregnant women against COVID-19. But with the condition that the pregnant women may be informed about the risks of exposure to COVID-19 infection along with the risks and benefits associated with the COVID-19 vaccines available in the country.
Moreover, A pregnant woman who opts for vaccination, could be vaccinated at any time of the pregnancy. Also, to help pregnant women make an informed decision to be vaccinated, they should be provided with information about the risks of COVID-19 infection in pregnancy, the benefits of vaccination, along with the likely side effects of vaccination. vaccination in India in pregnant women is showing a hike. (Reference: WHO) (World Health Organization)
Why is COVID 19 vaccine recommended for pregnant women?
- Pregnancy does not increase the risk to COVID-19 infection, but current evidence indicates that pregnant women are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant women in case they get infected.
- Additionally, pregnant women with COVID-19 are at increased risk for preterm birth and might have an increased risk of other adverse pregnancy outcomes.
- Most pregnant women will be asymptomatic or have mild disease, BUT their health may deteriorate rapidly and that might affect the foetal outcome.
- It is important that they take all precautions to protect themselves from acquiring COVID-19, including taking vaccination against COVID-19.
- WHO recommends vaccination in pregnant women when the benefits of vaccination to the pregnant woman outweigh the potential risks.
- It is therefore advisable that a pregnant woman should take COVID-19 vaccine.
Are there any side effects of the COVID 19 vaccines that can either harm the pregnant woman or her foetus?
- COVID 19 vaccines available are safe and vaccination protects pregnant women against COVID 19 illness/disease like other individuals. (Immunity building foods)
- Based on current knowledge, experts believe that COVID -19 vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk to the pregnant person or foetus.
- Like any medicine a vaccine may have side effects which are normally mild. After getting the vaccine, she 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 vaccines for foetus and child is not known 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.
Symptoms occurring within 20 days after receiving any COVID 19 vaccine:
- Shortness of breath (difficulty in breathing)
- Chest Pain
- Pain in limbs / pain on pressing the limbs or swelling in the limbs (arm or calf)
- Small pinpoint hemorrhages (petechial) or bruising of the skin beyond the vaccination site
- Persistent abdominal pain with or without vomiting.
- Seizures in the absence of previous history of seizures with or without vomiting.
- Severe and persistent headaches with or without vomiting (in the absence of previous history of migraine or chronic headache)
- Weakness/paralysis of limbs or any particular side of the body
- Persistent vomiting without any obvious reason
- Blurred vision/ pain in eyes
- Any other symptom or health condition which is of concern to the recipient or the family
Are there any specific contraindications for vaccination of PREGNANT WOMAN?
As for the general population, pregnant women should avoid vaccination in the following conditions:
- Anaphylactic or allergic reaction to the previous dose of COVID-19 vaccine (Home remedies for allergies)
- Anaphylaxis or allergic reaction to vaccines or injectable therapies, pharmaceutical products, food-items etc.
Vaccine is temporarily contraindicated in the following conditions:
- Diagnosed COVID-19 infection – defer for 12 weeks from infection or 4 to 8 weeks from recovery
- Active COVID-19 infection
- COVID-19 infection treated with anti-COVID-19 monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
If a pregnant woman has already had COVID-19, when should she be vaccinated?
In case a woman has been infected with COVID-19 infection during the current pregnancy, then she should be vaccinated soon after the delivery.
What are the benefits of VACCINE?
The COVID-19 vaccines produce protection against the disease, as a result of developing an immune response to the SARS-Cov-2 virus. In addition, developing immunity through vaccination means there is a reduced risk of developing the illness and its consequences. So, this is how immunity helps you fight the virus if exposed.
Should we eat or drink differently the day or two after getting vaccinated?
The effectiveness of the vaccine is not dependent on any food or drink before or after taking the vaccine. (Reference: WHO) (World Health Organization)
Is it safe for pregnant women, those planning to become pregnant, and breastfeeding mothers to receive COVID-19 vaccines?
In the interim, WHO recommends that for pregnant women the use of the COVID-19 vaccine depends on the basis of a benefit vs risk assessment. WHO does not recommend pregnancy testing prior to vaccination. Neither does WHO recommend delaying pregnancy or terminating pregnancy because of vaccination. Vaccination with any of the vaccine products assessed by the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization can be offered to breastfeeding women. Also, WHO does not recommend discontinuation of breastfeeding after vaccination.
Claims on social media suggested that COVID-1919 vaccine could affect female fertility. Is it true?
Rumours or social media posts suggesting that COVID-19 vaccines could cause infertility are not true and totally baseless. Such rumours were floated in the past against other vaccines also e.g. polio and measles. None of the available vaccines affects fertility. All vaccines and their constituents are tested first on animals and later in humans to assess if they have any such side effects. Vaccines are authorized for use only after their safety and efficacy is assured. (Reference: MOHFW)
Should women who are on their periods take the COVID-19 vaccine?
Women can receive a vaccine at any point in their menstrual cycle
What are the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines?
Like any vaccine, COVID-19 vaccines can cause mild, short term side effects. Most reactions to vaccines are mild and go away within a few days on their own.
Reported side effects to COVID-19 vaccines have mostly been mild to moderate and short-lasting. They include: fever, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, diarrhoea, and pain at the injection site. The chances of any of these side effects following vaccination differ according to the specific COVID-19 vaccine. (Reference: WHO)
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