Ladies, are you considering getting Covid vaccine while pregnant? Well, if you have given it a thought but are still skeptical, you are not alone.
Take the case of 32-year-old Sarah Wang.* The successful software engineer –who is is expecting her first baby this year–is all but concerned about getting the jab. Perhaps even more than her pregnancy.
“Of course, I worry about my baby. And that’s why I am worried about the vaccine’s effect on my baby’s growth. So right now I have decided to wait before I take the plunge,” she told theAsianparent.
Wang is one of the many expecting women in Singapore who have decided to take the ‘wait and watch’ route. This, even though Singapore approved vaccination of pregnant women and lactating mums.
Expecting And Lactating Mums Are Concerned About Getting Vaccinated
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From Friday (4 June), registration for vaccination will be open for pregnant women. But it seems that not every woman is willing to get the Covid vaccine while they’re pregnant.
Even while breastfeeding mums have been given the green light to be vaccinated, there are still those who are wary of receiving the jab.
While there is no evidence that suggests the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Covid-19 vaccines are harmful to pregnant woman or their babies. The fact is that there is currently limited data on the safety of the Covid vaccine while pregnant or lactating. This is perhaps why expectant mums may still be hesitant and are more concerned about the possible complications the vaccine may bring.
As Wang says, “I have no doubt that it works. But I just don’t want to take a chance on the 10-15% odds that it might not work.”
Gynaecologists and infectious disease experts have also found that pregnant and lactating women are rightly concerned about getting the vaccine.
But these experts have stressed that the risk of getting Covid-19 during pregnancy outweighs the potential risks from getting vaccinated.
As Centers for Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) puts it, “If you are pregnant, you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy can protect you from severe illness from COVID-19. If you have questions about getting vaccinated, a conversation with your healthcare provider might help, but is not required for vaccination.”
Pregnant Women At Higher Risk Of Complications If Infected With Covid-19
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Associate Professor Tan Lay Kok from KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) tells TODAY that there is strong evidence that puts pregnant woman are at a higher risk of developing serious and critical complications, if infected.
Such conditions may even lead them to require invasive ventilation and admission into intensive care units. This was especially true during the second wave of Covid-19 infection in United Kingdom.
“Moreover, the symptomatic infected pregnant women have twice the risk of delivering premature babies, which increases the risk of neonatal admissions for intensive care,” adds Assoc Prof Tan.
No Evidence To Support Risk From Getting The Covid Vaccine While Pregnant
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Quashing all speculations to help pregnant women in Singapore, the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) expert committee recently gave a go-ahead for pregnant and nursing mums in Singapore to get the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
This was done after their review on real-world clinical data in relation to expectant mothers in countries with extensive Covid-19 transmission.
“Studies have been done to monitor women who were pregnant when they were vaccinated and their babies,” said the expert committee.
“These studies were examined by the committee, and there is no evidence to suggest that the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Covid-19 vaccine cause harm to pregnant women or their babies,” experts added.
Experts also noted that no vaccine-related side effects have been reported in nursing mums who breastfed their babies after getting vaccinated.
There is also no need to stop breastfeeding your child when you receive the vaccine.
Benefits Of Covid Vaccine While Pregnant And Lactating
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While data on the safety of the Covid vaccine while pregnant and nursing is limited so far, experts have found many benefits to receiving vaccination.
The benefits of getting the Covid vaccine while you’re pregnant and breastfeeding are of the following:
1. Reduces the risk of severe diseases and other pregnancy complications
Senior consultant of obstetrics and gynaecology at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, Dr Khoo Chong Kiat, says the vaccine can reduce the risk of severe disease for pregnant women.
2. Receiving the vaccine can pass antibodies to your unborn child
Recent studies have also found that women who get the Covid vaccine while pregnant are able to pass on antibodies to their baby, helping to protect them after birth.
3. It reduces the risk of transmission to others
Of course, getting the vaccine helps in slowing down the transmission of Covid-19 to those around you. Vaccinated pregnant woman can also protect vulnerable household members such as children or the elderly.
4. Breastfeeding mums can also pass on antibodies through their breastmilk
Some findings also suggest that breastmilk of vaccinated lactating mothers contain Covid-19 antibodies that can help protect their baby. Further research is still needed but it is still advised that mums don’t stop breastfeeding.
Although it is still highly advised that pregnant women consult with their obstetricians or healthcare professionals regarding getting the vaccine to make an informed decision.
*Name changed on request.