Pregnant women in India are now eligible to get vaccinated against Covid with the union health ministry Friday giving the approval based on recommendations of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI).

Till date, all other groups, including health care workers, frontline workers, and everyone over the age of 18, were eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Now, the nationwide vaccination drive has been extended to pregnant women.

The decision has been communicated to all the states and union territories to implement it under the ongoing National Covid Vaccination Program, the ministry said in a statement.

CoWIN registration, walk-in allowed

Pregnant women who opt for vaccination can be vaccinated any time during their pregnancy at the nearest Government or Private COVID-19 Vaccination Center (CVC) after registration on CoWIN or by walk-in registration at the nearest CVC.

The procedures and modalities like registration, generation of certificates after vaccination etc. Will remain the same as it is for any beneficiaries above 18 years of age under the Covid vaccination programme.

Pregnant women at increased risk from COVID

In a statement, the health ministry said that studies have shown that COVID-19 infection during pregnancy may result in rapid deterioration of health of pregnant women and they are at an increased risk of severe diseases and it might affect the fetus too.

"The matter has been examined by domain knowledge experts based on the evidence that 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. Further, pregnant women with COVID-19 infection are at an increased risk for preterm birth and other adverse pregnancy outcomes including higher chances of neonatal morbidity," it added.

Additionally, the experts have also highlighted pre-existing co-morbidities, advanced maternal age, and high body mass index as factors for severe COVID-19 in pregnancy.

Operational guideline for vaccination

NTAGI has recommended vaccination for pregnant women. The National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) has also unanimously recommended it. Further, a national-level consultation on COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant women was also convened by the health ministry to build consensus on COVID vaccination of pregnant women.

The ministry has accepted these recommendations and prepared an operational guideline for vaccination of pregnant women, counselling kit for medical officers and frontline workers, and information education communication material for general public to equip the states and union territories to carry out the vaccination of pregnant women.

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