Pregnant women should get vaccine at between 14 and 33 weeks

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By John Isaac

WHEN the benefits of getting vaccinated outweigh the risks of getting seriously sick from Covid-19, pregnant women should consider getting vaccinated at between 14 and 33 weeks of their pregnancy, according to a government committee.

The Special Committee on Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV) said this on its newly published vaccination guidelines for pregnant and nursing women.

The guidelines, published on the committee’s website, are endorsed by Dr J Ravichandran R Jeganathan, head and senior consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Health Ministry, and Dr Murali Ganesalingam who is president of the Obstetrical & Gynaecological Society of Malaysia.

They say that pregnant women are more likely to get severely ill from Covid-19 compared to non-pregnant women and as such, getting vaccinated during pregnancy can protect them from severe Covid-19 illness.

Breastfeeding mothers

The guidelines cited that vaccination in pregnancy is endorsed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US Food and Drug Administration, the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (Figo), the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

“Current data on Covid-19 vaccination in pregnancy did not identify any concerns for vaccinated women or their babies,” read the guidelines, adding that the data was from mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

“Similarly several viral vector vaccines have been used in pregnancy, including large-scale Ebola vaccination trials. In these trials, there were no adverse outcomes in both mother and infant.

“However there is insufficient data presently on the use of viral vector vaccines for Covid-19 (Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca). Though these vaccines are not contraindicated, administration to a pregnant mother should be individualised and based on risk-benefit assessment,” read the guidelines, adding that an mRNA vaccine is preferred if available.

Regarding breastfeeding mothers, the guidelines also said breastfeeding women who have received Covid-19 vaccines have antibodies in their breast milk which could help protect their babies and that current evidence does not indicate any risks with Covid-19 vaccinations among breastfeeding women, particularly for mRNA and AstraZeneca vaccines.

It was recommended that pregnant women consult a doctor prior to getting vaccinated should they have any doubts.

“This is especially so if other comorbidities are present including obesity, diabetes and hypertension,” read the guidelines. – Malaysiakini