(Dr T Kabila Raje, Consultant Gynaecologist & Obstetrician, HCL Healthcare, Madurai)

·       All Individuals above the age of 18 years including pregnant and lactating women are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.

o   Symptomatic pregnant women are at increased risk of severe disease.

o   Pregnant women above the age of 35, with obesity and / or other pre-existing long-term diseases (comorbidities) are at higher risk of complications.

o   Babies born to COVID-infected mothers are at higher risk of being pre-mature and having low birth weight and other complications.

o   However, the COVID-19 vaccines’ long-term side effects on the mother and their babies are not yet established.

·       Hence, COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for pregnant and lactating women with informed consent as the benefits outweigh potential risks to them and their babies.

·       The currently available COVID-19 vaccines are largely safe for pregnant women.

o   Minor side effects like pain at the injection site, mild fever, headache, and body aches may be seen after vaccination, but these generally subside within 2-3 days and can be managed and treated with Over-The-Counter (OTC) medicines.

·       COVISHIELD can be given at any vaccination centre with a recommended gap of 12-16 weeks between the two doses.

·       COVAXIN is recommended in women with high-risk pregnancies such as those with Gestational Diabetes (GDM), Pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH), Epilepsy, severe anaemia, and those on blood thinners like Aspirin or Heparin group. They should be vaccinated in tertiary care centres under medical supervision with a recommended gap of 4-6 weeks between the two doses. These women should seek medical advice before vaccination.

·       Pregnant ladies can be vaccinated anytime during the pregnancy.

·       A pregnant woman who gets infected with COVID-19 during her pregnancy can be vaccinated 90 days after recovery from the acute infection OR soon after the delivery.

·       Injections of the Tetanus Toxoid (TT) vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine can be administered on the same day. Similarly, Anti-D injection can also be given on the same day but at a different site.

·       A nurse or healthcare worker should accompany a pregnant lady during COVID-19 vaccination, and a regular follow-up should be done to check for any Adverse Effect Following Immunisation (AEFI). Such cases are to be duly reported to the vaccination centre and the treating doctor (Physician/ Obstetrician).

·       Women on long-term contraception and with a previous history of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) or other clotting disorders should seek medical advice before COVID-19 vaccination.

·       Rh-negative women and those with previous caesarean operation are not categorised as high-risk group for COVID-19 vaccination.

·       The COVID-19 vaccination status with the date of vaccination should be entered in the RCH card.