J&K asks 2.25 lakh pregnant women to get vaccinated

‘Education, not coercion, needed for vaccination’
J&K asks 2.25 lakh pregnant women to get vaccinated
A health worker administers a COVID-19 jab to a woman in Srinagar.File: Aman Farooq

Srinagar: Following the Centre’s approval for Covid-19 jab to pregnant women, the J&K government has asked all the expecting women to get vaccinated against the virus.

Director General Health, Family Welfare and Immunization Dr Saleem ur Rehman said that there were around 2.25 pregnant women in J&K at present as per the government estimates. These women, he said, would be given preference at the vaccination centres and the efforts would be made to make the vaccination for pregnant women “easy and smooth.”

He said these pregnant women were part of the 18-44 years age group and there were an adequate number of vaccines available for them. “We have issued instructions to the health department to encourage pregnant women to get vaccinated,” he said. This, he said, could be done during the regular prenatal check-ups and other maternity consultations.

Dr Rehman said that ASHA workers and ANMs would be used to spread awareness and hold one-on-one consultations with women and their family members to help them understand the benefits of vaccination for them and their unborn babies. “We will be holding sessions with these workers (ASHA, ANM and others) soon to help them deliver the message better,” he said.

While expressing dismay over the recent reports of force and coercion being used in some places of J&K during vaccination drives, he said, “Vaccination and choice for vaccines need to be powered by information and education rather than coercion,” he said. He said vaccination in J&K was going on smoothly at present and vaccines were available in “adequate numbers.”

All the three vaccines available in India – Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V have been approved for use in pregnant women.

As per the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Covid-19 infection during pregnancy may result in rapid deterioration of health of pregnant women and could also affect the foetus. It has said that the “benefits of vaccination to pregnant women outweigh its potential risks.” The decision to allow pregnant women to get vaccinated was taken after National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI), MoHFW gave it a nod.

However, the NTAGI has said that pregnant women “must” be informed about the risks of exposure to Covid-19 infection along with the risks and benefits associated with the Covid-19 vaccines available in the country. “Based on the information provided, a pregnant woman will have the choice to take the vaccination,” the Ministry announced recently.

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