The health ministry on Thursday said that COVID 19 vaccination should not be given to pregnant and lactating women as they have not been part of any clinical trial of an anti-coronavirus vaccine so far.
In letter to all states and Union territories, the ministry highlighted that under the emergency use authorisation, coronavirus vaccination is indicated only for 18 years and above. If required, COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines should be separated by an interval of at least 14 days.
The letter written by Manohar Agnani, Additional Secretary, Union health ministry said that, "Interchangeability of COVID-19 vaccines is not permitted. Second dose should also be of the same COVID-19 vaccine which was administered as the first dose."
The letter stated, "Pregnant and lactating women have not been a part of any COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial so far. Therefore, women who are pregnant or not sure of their pregnancy and lactating women should not receive COVID-19 vaccine at this time."
It further states, "Following conditions are not contraindicated for COVID-19 vaccines - persons with past history of SARS-CoV-2 infection and or RT-PCR positive illness, history of chronic diseases and morbidities and immuno-deficiency, HIV, patients on immune suppression due to any condition."
The Ministry has identified COVID-19 vaccination precautions and contraindications along with a comparative fact sheet for both vaccines - Covishield and Covaxin- containing vaccine platform details, physical specifications, dosage, cold-chain storage requirements, contraindications and minor AEFIs (adverse event following immunization).
It is said that this data should be disseminated for ready reference to program managers at all levels and through them to cold-chain handlers and vaccinators.
The Health Ministry cautioned against the administration of vaccine in the case of persons with a history of anaphylactic or allergic reaction to a previous dose of COVID-19 vaccine and persons with immediate or delayed onset of anaphylaxis or allergic reaction to vaccines or injectable therapies, pharmaceutical products, food items.
On January 16, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch India's major COVID-19 vaccination campaign via video conferencing, even as sufficient doses of 'Covaxin' from Bharat Biotech and 'Covishield' vaccines from the Serum Institute have been distributed across the country to all states and Union territories.
A person will experience mild AEFIs following vaccination for both the vaccines. In case of Covishied, some mild AEFI may occur like injection site tenderness, injection site pain, headache, fatigue, myalgia, malaise, pyrexia, chills and arthralgia and nausea.
Some mild AEFIs in case of Covaxin include injection site pain, headache, fatigue, fever, body ache, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, dizziness-giddiness, tremor, sweating, cold, cough and injection site swelling. Paracetamol may be used to provide symptomatic relief from post vaccination adverse reactions.