Pregnant Women at High Risk for COVID, When Will We Be Vaccinated?
Vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna, safe for pregnant women, should be made available.
Video Editor: Sandeep Suman
Video Producer: Aastha Gulati
I am eight-months pregnant, living in Delhi in India, a country that has over the last few weeks seen thousands of COVID deaths. The second wave has shattered several families and left many others anxious for themselves and their loved ones.
Despite a surge in cases in the country and the national capital, pregnant women are listed as contraindications to the two dominant COVID-19 vaccines being administered in India: Covishield and Covaxin. The reason given for this exclusion is the lack of clinical data in vaccine trials.
If the government wants to go by evidence-based data, then why have the only two global vaccines having safety evidence for pregnant women – Pfizer and Moderna – not been made available to us? Even if I want to, I cannot get vaccinated to protect myself and my unborn child.
Hence, my Change.org petition addressed to the Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare of India, Dr Harsh Vardhan, which asks for vaccinations to be open to pregnant women and their caregivers in India. It also asks for expectant mothers to get urgent medical care as they are in a high risk category.
Further, I ask for strict penalties to be imposed on hospitals that deny medical assistance to or turn away pregnant women who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Be it at the health ministry or at the ICMR – powerful men are getting to decide what’s right or wrong for women and their bodies. Shouldn’t the choice of deciding whether I want the vaccine or whether I feel safe to take it be left to me or to any other pregnant woman?
Pregnancy is supposed to be a joyous time in one’s life, but for me it’s been filled with anxiety. I have questioned profusely how I can protect myself and the new life growing inside of me, while there is sickness and death all around.
Even prenatal doctor visits, which are very important for my and my baby’s health, are stressful because I have to wait to see my doctor at hospitals where COVID patients are being treated. It is taxing to realise I have not been vaccinated and I have no immunity against the virus.
Care to COVID-Positive Pregnant Women
A few weeks ago, I myself tested positive for COVID-19. On the third day, my fever rose to 102 degrees. We immediately called a hospital, but they refused to admit me. While I was fortunate enough to recover at home, many others have not been so lucky.
As a journalist, I decided to investigate this issue and reported it at length for NPR. These testimonies are shocking.
Families have lost a loved one who was pregnant and COVID-positive. Some women who were COVID-positive died minutes after giving birth. Some died along with their unborn child in the third trimester, while some gave birth to preterm babies.
Beyond these stories, studies are conclusive proof – pregnant women are at risk of severe complications and have a high rate of mortality if they contract coronavirus. That risk of contracting the virus is far higher than the risk of side effects from the vaccine.
Are we a forgotten and insignificant population with no accountability for our lives? Who is accountable for ensuring that this very vulnerable population of expecting mothers is protected? If the government cannot take accountability, then at least leave the choice to pregnant women.
(The author is a journalist based in Delhi. All ‘My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)
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