With the Covid-19 vaccination drive picking up speed in India, here’s what you need to know about Covid vaccinations and pregnancy.
On May 1st, adults between the ages of 18 to 45 years became eligible to register for the Covid-19 vaccination drive in India, and get inoculated against Covid-19. What does this mean for pregnant women who are likely to fall within this age group? And what about women who have plans to become pregnant?
These are the latest developments regarding the Covid Vaccinations and Pregnancy in India.
About the Covid Vaccine
The Covid-19 vaccination is designed to inoculate persons against the Covid-19 disease - this means preventing infection or preventing progression into a severe state of the disease.
At present, there are 2 vaccines available in India - AstraZeneca's Covishield®, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, and Covaxin®, manufactured by Bharat Biotech Limited. Both have received Emergency Use Authorization from the Indian regulatory body CDSCO, as per global standards and following successful Phase I and Phase II clinical trials. Each comes in 2 doses, to be taken 4 to 8 weeks apart.
Can Pregnant Women Take the Covid Vaccine?
At present, official guidelines recommend that pregnant women do not take the Covid-19 vaccine.
What are the Latest Developments?
In May, the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) submitted a new preliminary recommendation to the Government regarding pregnant women and the Covid vaccine. They have stated that pregnant women should be informed about the Covid-19 vaccines and given the choice to take the vaccine during their antenatal check-ups.
However, the Government has not yet authorised this recommendation. At present, pregnant women are not officially eligible to take the vaccine.
Why is This The Case?
Pregnant women were not included in the initial clinical trials for Covishield or Covaxin. As of now, it is not known for sure whether the vaccine is safe for pregnant women and foetal health, or what are the potential complications, if any.
Thus, as per present guidelines, women who are at any stage of their pregnancy, or could possibly be pregnant at this time, should not get the Covid vaccine.
Will the Guidelines Change?
The NTAGI recommendation is currently under review by the Government, although no decision has been made yet. At the same time, the recommendation is considered only preliminary, with further decisions yet to be made.
As the Covid-19 pandemic is an ongoing health crisis, new research is taking place simultaneously at an accelerated pace. In the US, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been declared safe for pregnant women, following evaluation of data related to maternal and foetal outcomes after vaccination. As Covid-19 infections are known to cause complications in pregnant women, the vaccine is considered a good precautionary measure.
As research continues in India as well, new data will continue coming to light. Regulatory bodies and committees like the NTAGI will accordingly put forth new recommendations and guidelines, including with regard to Covid vaccinations and pregnancy in India.
However, at present, pregnant women should not take the vaccine.
If there are changes in official guidelines in the coming weeks, regardless of what stage in your pregnancy you’re at, consult with your obstetrician and make a decision accordingly.
What if I’m Planning to Get Pregnant?
Now that the vaccine is being rolled out for adults 18 years or older, you may have questions regarding your future pregnancy plans and whether to take the vaccine.
If you have plans to become pregnant naturally or via assisted conception treatments, you must consult with your gynecologist regarding the Covid-19 vaccine, recommends Dr Anjali Menon, CK Birla Hospital speaking to The Indian Express. Some doctors told The New Indian Express that if women take the vaccine, conception should be delayed by 6 to 8 weeks post-vaccination.
As taking the Covid-19 vaccine and becoming pregnant are both very important decisions, consider speaking to your doctor as soon as possible. Discuss all factors and options, to make the right decision.
If you unexpectedly find out that you are pregnant after taking the vaccine, do not panic. It is unlikely to cause harm. Consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Does the Covid Vaccine Affect Fertility?
You may have heard rumours that the Covid vaccine negatively impacts fertility. However, this has been widely denied by gynecologists.
The Covid vaccine has no effect on fertility in men and women, experts told The New Indian Express, and it is recommended that all eligible adults get the vaccine.
At present, this is everything you should know about the Covid vaccinations and pregnancy in India.
If you’re pregnant, you may not be able to take the Covid-19 vaccine right now. But do encourage your partner, parents or anyone living with you who is eligible to register for the vaccination. Once they’re inoculated, your own level of protection from infection will increase.
Have a safe and happy pregnancy!