From 21st June 2021, the Indian federal government has opened up a free COVID-19 vaccination drive for everyone above 18 years of age. Even though the rules have been specified for all people, a few frequently asked questions ever since the vaccination drive began in March 2021 has been, “Is there a COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant and lactating women?” “Are COVID-19 vaccine pregnancy safe?”
The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), in its notification on 28th May 2021, stated that all lactating mothers are now eligible to get vaccinated. Although the vaccination rules for COVID and lactating moms have been specified, the rules for pregnant women and the answer to “Are COVID-19 vaccines pregnancy safe?” are still inconclusive.
Let us understand the safety and rules of the COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant and lactating women.
Can pregnant women take the COVID-19 vaccine?
Some countries have already begun vaccination for pregnant women. However, due to the availability of limited data, COVID vaccination of pregnant women has not been started in India. Studies and trials to understand the safe use of these vaccines during pregnancy are going on.
None of the approved vaccines being used in the world contains a live virus, there is no chance that you may get a COVID infection due to a vaccine.
Pregnancy is a very delicate phase for a woman and during this time, ensuring the wellness of the mother and her unborn child is essential. Good care of diet and lifestyle along with all safety precautions for COVID should be followed during pregnancy. Regular follow-ups with your doctor are important.
However, expecting mothers have not been given any direction to take the COVID-19 vaccine in India due to insufficient data that proves these vaccines are safe for them. Trials to determine the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines are still underway. We can expect some guidelines on this in the coming future. As per the current guidelines, pregnant women in India should wait till childbirth for their vaccination and take a jab post-delivery after discussing it with the treating doctor.
Lactating women are now eligible to take the COVID-19 vaccine
Apart from pregnant women, another common question that most people had was, “Can breastfeeding women take the vaccine for COVID-19?”. Concerns about breastfeeding and COVID have been addressed and after some considerations, the NTAGI advised that all women can take the vaccine anytime after their delivery.
This recommendation came after the studies showed that the vaccine does not impact breast milk flow or supply in any way. In addition, some studies are trying to find out if vaccinated lactating mothers may be able to transmit COVID-19 antibodies to their babies.
All the breastfeeding mothers can now take a Covid vaccine in India.
Breastfeeding and caring for the newborn during the pandemic
Pregnant women and new lactating mothers have been anxious about the safety of their baby and their health. If you are a new mother, here are some precautions that you can take while breastfeeding or taking care of your baby:
- Always wash your hands before and after breastfeeding your baby.
- Wipe and disinfect all the surfaces thoroughly.
- Try to wear a mask when you are in close contact with your baby.
- If you are too sick to feed your baby, use a cup and spoon to feed your baby. Ensure that these items are clean and hygienic.
- Restrict outsiders from visiting you or your baby to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Pregnant women and lactating mothers need special attention and care during these challenging times. If you have decided to get vaccinated, discuss and consult with your healthcare provider before taking your jab. Here are some things you must remember:
- Remember the date of your first jab and follow all the necessary measures after taking the vaccine.
- Follow all preventive measures such as maintenance of proper hand hygiene, social distancing and double masking.
Also, remember that vaccination does not guarantee 100% immunity against COVID-19. However, it prepares your body with the antibodies required to prevent any severe condition due to the virus, especially when your body is undergoing many changes due to pregnancy, childbirth and lactation.
Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.