Government should give clear directions on whether AstraZeneca vaccine is safe for pregnant women ― Yeo Bee Yin

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MAY 14 ― In this Malaysiakini report, it shares the 'Clinical Guidelines on Covid-19 Vaccination in Malaysia' by the Ministry of Health.

In the guideline, for pregnant women, the ministry said recent data indicated that mRNA-based vaccines were safe for both the mother and fetus, “Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are mRNA-based vaccines which build spike proteins, mimicking the surface protein of Sars-COV-2 to trigger an immune response. These vaccines do not contain live Sars-COV-2 and hence is not infective to the pregnant mother and her fetus,” it said.

The question that many pregnant women want confirmation from government now is actually: Is AstraZeneca vaccine safe for pregnant women? This is because there is increased risk of severe illness for pregnant women if infected with Covid-19 and with the skyrocketing infection rate in Malaysia, many pregnant women are now considering to sign-up for AstraZeneca when the next batch arrives instead of waiting for their turn in Phase 3 of vaccination rollout. If AZ is not suitable for pregnant women, the government should give very CLEAR instructions.

In the Phase 1 of the vaccination rollout, which was the one I participated in, Pfizer was used. After knowing it was Pfizer, to ensure it was safe for me, I needed to check with multiple gynaes and UK Royal Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website that stated the following:

“There is limited UK data on Covid-19 vaccination and pregnancy. However, robust real-world data from the United States ― where around 90,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated mainly with mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna ― have not raised any safety concerns.” It also recommended for pregnant women to take the vaccination from week 13.

A nurse loads a syringe with a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the Dewan Gemilang UKM vaccination centre in Bangi May 5, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
A nurse loads a syringe with a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the Dewan Gemilang UKM vaccination centre in Bangi May 5, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

This information gave me the peace of mind that the Pfizer vaccine was safe for me and I was at the right state of pregnancy to get vaccinated. But what about other pregnant women who are still waiting for their turns? That’s the reason why I raised the issue yesterday, to the attention of government if there is sufficient data on the other brands of vaccines in our vaccine procurement plan for pregnant women, the government’s plans to ensure suitable vaccines are administered to the pregnant women at the right stage of pregnancy as well as calling the government for a better communication plan.

We cannot be leave this to the pregnant women to scramble for information by themselves, finding the solutions to protect themselves and the babies in their wombs. The government must communicate clear guidelines and plan for this vulnerable group.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

 

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