HYDERABAD: Though vaccination for pregnant women has been recommended by Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Society of India (FOGSI) as worldwide data shows that it is safe, the Central government seems to be still on two minds over whether they must be given or not.
Many pregnant women in Telangana have taken the vaccine in private hospitals despite no government order as per the recommendations of FOGSI.
The recommendation is an advisory based on the data available from the United States of America, New Zealand and Canada. The data from American V-Safe registry is the basis for this advice. The FOGSI issued the advisory as it was found that more pregnant women succumbed to Covid-19 in the second wave when compared to the first wave.
Data collated from different centres across India shows that vulnerability of those in the age-group of 25 to 50 years in the second wave had also a sizeable number of pregnant women. Deaths in the younger category due to Covid-19 shows them too.
A senior gynaecologist on condition of anonymity explained, "Due to families getting infected in the second wave, pregnant women were not protected either. They too have suffered and many of them could not be treated due to their pregnant condition. Those who reached the stage of breathlessness could not be revived in 90 per cent of the cases."
Due to this reason, the acceleration of vaccination in this vulnerable group of women is also advised.
Dr Shanta Kumari, president-elect of FOGSI, said, "We are recommending vaccines for pregnant and lactating women based on the positive stand taken by international bodies. The potential risk versus benefit analysis shows that pregnant women stand to benefit and vaccines are safe. It is on the family to take the advice and vaccinate their women."
In the government sector, in the absence of any orders, pregnant women are not being vaccinated.
Government doctors say that they are not issuing advisory as there is lack of data in India for vaccinating pregnant women. The other concerns raised after vaccination are of miscarriage, low birth weight, preterm births, still births and congenital anomalies.
Dr Roya Rozati, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at Shadan Institute of Medical Sciences, said, "There is no basis for this concern. In case of a side effect, the vaccination centre is to be immediately approached or the healthcare worker contacted. In real-time data, it is clear that the vaccine is beneficial. What is advised is regular follow-up in pregnancy even after the vaccination. Pregnant women must be given opportunity as there are studies in basic science showing that there are no adverse effects to the baby in the womb. Protecting this category of women is important like the general population."
With these studies, gynaecologists are advising pregnant women to take the vaccine but the numbers are very limited. Inability to meet the doctor face-to-face and online consultations with family members around have been making it difficult for pregnant women to get vaccinated. For them, to convince families to vaccinate them is another challenge.
Experts have urged the government to start vaccinating pregnant women too as there is data supporting their safety.