Tamil Nadu: Hesitancy, fear behind less vaccination among pregnant women

Hesitancy and fear about vaccination are still prevalent among people of TN, statistics by state public health department on number of vaccines administered on pregnant woman to be a key indicator

representative Image (Photo Courtesy: IANS)
representative Image (Photo Courtesy: IANS)


Hesitancy and fear about COVID-19 vaccination are still prevalent among the people of Tamil Nadu, and the statistics provided by the state public health department on the number of vaccines administered on pregnant woman seems to be a key indicator.

The public health department in a release on Saturday shared the figures. As of August 16, out of 7,08,342 pregnant women in the state, only 2,58,994 were administered vaccines. This would roughly make around 37 per cent of the pregnant women.

Doctors are of the opinion that the reduced number of vaccination among pregnant women is due to hesitancy among the excepting mothers and their families as well as fear "if the vaccine would do any damage to the fetus".

Dr. Rajani Varrier, a Gynecologist in Madurai, told IANS: "The pregnant mothers are at high risk as they frequent hospitals for check-ups and the possibility of getting infected is high. In most cases, families are using delaying tactics from the antenatal mothers taking the jab as there is a fear that this would damage the overall health of the mother as well as inflict some damage to the fetus which is totally wrong."

"This is a totally wrong misconception and even after sustained and systematic campaigns conducted by the government, the awareness seems to be low and more awareness programmes are the only measure to overcome this obstacle which I am sure the state health department would do in the days to come," the senior doctor added.

Dr. MS Hemalatha, additional health officer of Chennai City corporation also said that the doctors and paramedics of the corporation have been motivating the expecting mothers to administer the jab whenever they show up at the community health centres or urban health centres.

"We call upon all our staff including nurses to make these pregnant women aware of the need to vaccinate them and in most cases they return back stating that they would consult the family and come back," she said.

However, Chennai Institute of Obstetrics and Gynecology (IOG)provided a better picture.

Even as the average number of vaccines is less in Chennai compared to the state average, the IOG data revealed that all the pregnant women who approached the hospital were vaccinated.

Dr S. Vijaya, Director, IOG said that the hospital conducted proper counselling among expecting mothers and this led to a 100 per cent inoculation.

She said that after the jab, the hospital had followed up with each pregnant woman and found that they did not have any health issues.

Kerala Health Minister Ma Subramanian was, however, optimistic that the volume of pregnant women getting inoculated would increase in the days to come.

Speaking to IANS, the health minister said: "We have conducted proper awareness and will conduct more awareness programmes among the families on the positive aspects of vaccination among pregnant women. I am certain that the figures would improve in the days to come and people are largely cooperating on the vaccination drive of the government."

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