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Vaccinate We Must – Dr. Girija Wagh

As the covid struck us down and especially the deluge of the second wave affected many young people especially pregnant mothers, either making them very sick or killing them, we have to wake up to the reality and the acceptance that we must vaccinate.

The recent decline seen in the cases is a result of being vaccinated. At this point, we ask every patient be it young or old about their vaccination against covid status. Yet nearly 30 percent are not vaccinated.

The reasons cited for not being vaccinated are:

  • Fear

  • Availability

  • Access

  • Ignorance

Especially, the young and middle-aged haven’t taken vaccination under the above commonly cited reasons.

There is a fear of adverse reactions as some experienced severe body ache and high-grade fever mandating the need for medicines to reduce pain. Paracetamol was found to be effective and the response was not long-lasting. The pregnant women who chose not to vaccinate were concerned about their health and the fact that a reaction may cause harm to their baby and may mandate medications that would be harmful to the baby.

Women who chose to be jabbed were brave fearless and decide to take the call of vaccination primarily to protect themselves and eventually their babies. A mixed plethora of human perception is revealed in these actions and responses to a seemingly life-threatening issue that can be controlled.

Availability was cited as the cause, as some booked appointments and when they reached to actually take the vaccine it was either unavailable or the persons meant to deliver the vaccine were unavailable. Some had specific choices of vaccine types based on social media information or the first vaccine taken.

Accessibility was an issue at the peripheral parts of the country from where now the youngsters have returned to their hostels or workplaces and said the vaccines weren’t available at the places from where they came. Some in the city chose to go to their hometowns to avail the free vaccination provided by the government while some came to the city to be vaccinated in private facilities.

Ignorance is appalling and there are still many who have doubts, fears, and concerns about the fact that the quality and the standard of the vaccine may not be optimum. Also, many non-vaxers choose not to be vaccinated citing the fact that it is not natural.

Vaccines have been in place for over a century now and successful stories of eradicating smallpox and polio infections are evidence of the effectiveness of these approaches. Both these diseases are extremely debilitating viral infections and have been successfully curbed with vaccinations. The current control of the covid virus infection can be partly attributed to the vaccine is what the scientific data mentions.

The vaccination program has to be extended to adult life as is mandatory in some countries to the annual flush we must encourage the adult population to take the floss well as the pneumococcal vaccine. Especially with a large population affected by diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, it is essential that adult vaccination is encouraged and practiced diligently. Pregnancy likewise offers a window of opportunity not only to protect the mother but also her newborn form the effective antibodies produced by her.

Despite a huge body of evidence about the fact that measles, mumps, and rubella when infect mothers can cause miscarriages and deformities in the baby the general community in our country seems to be unaware of this very effective way of curbing these infections. Before planning pregnancy newly married woman or an adult woman at the age of 20 years can diligently update her own vaccination schedule.

It’s been more than 2 decades that the cancer cervix vaccine is available to prevent this cancer but the acceptability and the information about the same hasn’t percolated amongst the community as well as the medical fraternity.

HPV virus not only causes cancer after a long dwelling in the genital tract it can create inflammatory pressure in the crevice vaginal milieu which can increase the possibility of infections in these areas eventually leading to preterm births. Preterm births are the highest in the entire world in India and especially the PPROMs that are preterm premature rupture of membranes.

The appropriate policy for vaccinations in the context of pregnancy seems to be to take these vaccines before embarking on pregnancy planning, treatments, or fertility practices. If this timeline is missed at least takes those vaccines which are safe during pregnancy such as the flu, tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis and pertussis, and now the covid. The appropriate time timelines for the covid vaccine during pregnancy to help alleviate the above-mentioned fears can be the first shot between 11 to 14 weeks and the second one between 24 to 32 weeks.

It’s better to take at least one shot and definitely before the onset of the third trimester as women seemed to be more affected in the third trimester. Actually, looking at the types of vaccine any time can during pregnancy can be considered for vaccination and in my experience of the 100s of women who took vaccine during pregnancy under my care had no serious side effects.

So let’s protect ourselves, our community, and the country and vaccinate ourselves and be aware of these very valuable inventions created for our health and well-being.

– Dr. Girija Wagh


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