COVID-19 vaccine not for pregnant and lactating women yet: Health Ministry

‘Vaccine-specific contraindications may apply as new information becomes available’

Pregnant and lactating women have not been a part of any COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial so far and should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine at this time, cautioned the Health Ministry in its note on precautions and contraindications for the vaccines. It added that vaccine-specific contraindications may apply as new information becomes available.

India in the past 24 hours has reported 191 COVID-19 case fatalities with six States/UTs accounting for 73.3% of new deaths, said data released by the Health Ministry on Friday. Maharashtra saw the maximum casualties (70), followed by Kerala (19) and West Bengal (17). India is reporting one new death per million population in the last seven days, with a case fatality rate of 1.44%. Deaths per million population in India are one of the lowest in the world, said the Ministry.

Also read: Coronavirus | India says COVID-19 vaccine supply to other countries will take ‘some time’

It added that India’s total active case load continues to manifest a sustained downward movement and has dropped to 2.13 lakh (at 2,13,027). The daily new cases added to the country’s COVID-19 numbers have been below 20,000 in the recent days. The number of daily new cases in the last 24 hours is 15,590; and 15,975 cases recovered and discharged in the last 24 hours.

“New cases per million population in India in the last seven days are 87. It is one of the lowest in the world. The number is significantly low when compared with countries like Russia, Germany, Brazil, France, Italy, USA and UK. The total recovered cases stand at 10,162,738. The gap between recovered cases and active cases, that is steadily increasing, has crossed 99 lakh and presently stands at 99,49,711,” said the Ministry.

Also read: Coronavirus | A vaccine is a vaccine… regulators never approve a backup, says virologist Shahid Jameel

Meanwhile, health experts feel the logistical challenges the COVID-19 vaccination process would encounter in India are expected to be tackled effectively by our healthcare system. However, “I would like to point out two potential problems that I foresee with the delivery of vaccines in India — the first is vaccine hesitancy and the second is fake news and anti-vaccine hoaxes,” said past president of the Indian Medical Association, Kochi, Rajeev Jayadevan.

He said that vaccine hesitancy is a global problem. “It is well-known that more time spent deliberating does not necessarily lead to a better decision. This is a universal fact. Unfortunately, people with very little idea about biology, virology, immunology and vaccine development are seen engaging in deep academic discussions which are grossly misleading to everyone, including the common man,” he said.

On fake news and anti-vaccine hoaxes, he said, “This will invariably happen as vaccines start being administered in India. We must take stringent measures to stop such rumours, perhaps even take pre-emptive legal measures to stop and discourage such activities under the Epidemic Act.”

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