In Mumbai, where the drive started on July 15, merely 429 have taken the shot so far. The city has an estimated 1.5 lakh pregnant women.
“The response has been guarded so far. Developing fever after vaccination is the big concern expressed by most. We have been trying to counsel that it is mostly mild and resolves in a day or two, but there is hesitancy,” said Dr Mangala Gomare, BMC’s executive health officer. Of the pregnant women vaccinated so far, only one had a bout of vomiting that required hospitalisation of a few days, she said, adding that no other serious adverse events were noted in those who got vaccinated.
Fear of fever is one of the biggest reasons behind vaccine hesitancy of expecting mothers, said gynaecologist Nikhil Datar, and explained why post-immunisation fever is not risky for them. “There is a crucial message that we need to spread. The fever after immunisation is the body’s immune response and largely harmless. They shouldn’t confuse it with the fever one gets after an infection,” said Datar.
The fear is more among women in the third trimester, said gynaecologist Sudhir Naik. “Many getting the vaccine in the second trimester worry that the second dose would come in the third trimester. We tell them the fever would be no different from the one they suffer during regular bouts of cold and cough,” he said.
Little is known about how the drive is faring in the rest of the state as districts are not keeping a count. Dr Raj Gehlot, health officer of Chandrapur, called the response “mixed”. Officials from three more districts confirmed they have not been asked to maintain data. Pradeep Vyas, additional chief secretary (health), said CoWin does not capture pregnant women data, adding that daily reporting will not be possible from 4,000 sites.
The Centre had on July 30 said that nearly 2.3 lakh pregnant women had taken the vaccine across India. States leading the chart were Tamil Nadu (78,838), followed by AP (34,228), Odisha (29,821), Madhya Pradesh (21,842), Kerala (18,423) and Karnataka (16,673). Since then, Tamil Nadu has vaccinated 1.9 lakh pregnant women.