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In Kerala, vaccine hesitancy appears to baulk some pregnant women from taking COVID-19 shots

Kerala’s Health Department launched COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant women under a special campaign called Mathrukavacham last week

Vaccine hesitancy appears to be preventing at least some pregnant women in the State from receiving COVID-19 vaccine.

The Health Department launched COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant women under a special campaign, Mathrukavacham, last week. Though there has generally been a good response and 39,822 pregnant women have received the vaccine so far, some pregnant women have been refusing to accept the doses, the Health Department has found.

Health Minister Veena George recently said here that all pregnant women in the State should get vaccinated against COVID-19 a soon as possible since they were at the risk of developing serious complications if they contracted the disease.

During the second wave, COVID-19 resulted in an increase in Caesarean section births, pre-term births and serious complications in pregnant women, while 40 or more mothers-to-be died of complications from the disease, the Minister pointed out.

Doctors’ counselling

Ms. George appealed to all pregnant women to get themselves inoculated for their own safety as well as that of their unborn children. All gynaecologists and obstetricians in public and private hospitals have been asked to counsel pregnant women on the importance of vaccination.

As pregnant women would have to visit hospitals for antenatal appointments, it was likely that they would come into contact with many persons in hospitals. Hence, it was safer for pregnant women to be vaccinated. Even if they contract COVID after inoculation, it would be much safer than contracting the disease unvaccinated, she said.

The Mathrukavacham campaign was launched so that ASHAs can register all pregnant women for vaccination in the CoWin portal at the ward level. Special arrangements have been made at all vaccination centres so that pregnant women do not come into contact with the crowd. Women above 35, those who are obese or have comorbidities such as diabetes or hypertension are at the risk of developing serious illness from COVID-19.

They can opt for Covishield or Covaxin. Though vaccination can be taken at any point during gestation, the earlier the better. Lactating mothers can also receive COVID-19 vaccine.

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