Vaccination against Covid-19 for pregnant women started in mid-July but only 40,700 women have taken the shot so far in Maharashtra.
Doctors believe misunderstanding, fear and lack of local data on pregnancy outcomes may be keeping women away.
“Few get convinced to take the vaccine and walk up to the vaccination centre on our premises,” said Dr Tushar Palve, superintendent of Cama and Albless Hospital.
Only 2 per cent of the estimated 20 lakh women in this category have taken the jab. In Mumbai, among 1.5 per cent of pregnant women, only 1,278 have taken it. In India, over 6 lakh had taken it till September 7.
The fact that pregnant women face a higher risk of severe Covid is pushing the medical fraternity for more awareness and confidence-building campaigns.
BMC data shows that only one woman of the nearly 1,200 vaccinated had a serious adverse event.
In the first Covid wave, pregnant women were relatively less affected. Dr Tushar Palve said, less than five pregnant women needed oxygen support out of nearly 700 admissions. That changed drastically in the second wave as nearly 30 per cent (120) required oxygen support out of 450-odd admissions.
“Morbidity was higher in the second wave, so we highly recommend vaccination to our patients,” he said.
Dr Palve said they counsel pregnant women when they come for antenatal visits.
Vaccination has been approved at any time during pregnancy. Dr Hrishikesh Pai, president-elect of the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI) said repeated counselling is needed to allay fears of miscarriage.
“There is a strong hesitancy, but that’s understandable,” he said.
Worldwide there is strong data on the safety of mRNA vaccines for pregnant women. Dr Pai said the government must collect local data, including on Covaxin and Covishield. One way to do that would be to study pregnancy outcomes in women, particularly healthcare and frontline workers, who may have inadvertently taken the vaccine in January-February.