New Delhi: Since the Centre recommended COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant women, around 14 lakh expecting mothers have received at least one shot of COVID-19 jabs in the country till September 20, top government officials told UNI.
The Centre had allowed vaccination for pregnant on July 2. Considering the government data, five lakh prospective mothers are getting vaccinated against the COVID-19 every month.
According to the experts, the rate is quite slow considering the cohort of the population the governments would have to cover in a year which is estimated at around 2.6 to 3 crore in a year.
“You will expect around 2.6 crore pregnant women in a year and by the current rate, we may not be able to vaccinate all of them,” highlighted Dr Suneela Garg, advisor to ICMR and professor of excellence at Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC).
“The government is moving carefully but a greater pace is required to immunize the cohort population soon. However, a beginning has been made, she added,” she added.
“Vaccination in pregnant women is not an individual’s choice but becomes a family decision because many stakeholders are involved in it. This factor also results in the slow progress of the immunisation of this group. However, the government need to work more on sensitization and widely publicise the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines to encourage the group to undergo the immunisation programme,” Garg noted.
Dr NK Arora, the chairperson, Covid-19 working group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI), also agreed that the pace of vaccination is slow but assured that it will pick up gradually.
“Their (pregnant women) vaccination will pick up gradually. We can’t summarise the growth on the basis of average monthly vaccination. Such large scale initiatives are run based on the log scale,” he said while speaking to UNI.
“The doctors should have confidence over the vaccines and recommend to such women without any hesitancy,” he added.
The government data estimates around 3 crore pregnancies every year. Of them, 2.6 crore women deliver children while 30-40 lakh undergoes abortion due to different reasons including miscarriages.
The experts also said pregnant women should be included in the Centre’s list of the high-risk group and prioritised for the COVID vaccination.
“According to Reproductive and Child Health programme by Government of India, pregnant women form a vulnerable group since they are at the risk of developing severe health issues. So it is but natural that they are also at a high risk of getting the severe form of COVID-19 infection,” Garg said.
“The expecting mothers should be officially recognised as a high-risk group and vaccination for them should be done on priority,” she suggested.