Vaccine chance for pregnant women

PREGNANT women and breastfeeding mothers in Bahrain can now register for the coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccination.

Health Ministry assistant under-secretary Dr Maryam Al Hajeri, said, in a statement yesterday, the women could choose from Sinopharm or Pfizer/BioNTech, two of the five approved Covid-19 vaccines in the country.

The decision aims to protect mums-to-be who are vulnerable to the virus infection and its complications, Dr Al Hajeri said.

Bahrain is the first GCC country to approve five Covid-19 vaccines, with Johnson & Johnson being the latest to be given the green light on Thursday.

“Members of the Health Ministry’s vaccination committee have approved the inoculation of breastfeeding mothers and pregnant women,” said Dr Al Hajeri, who chairs the committee.

“They can choose from two vaccines against coronavirus (Covid-19) that have been approved for use in Bahrain – Sinopharm and Pfizer/BioNTec.

“The decision was taken after the committee studied all recommendations – issued by the advisory group on vaccines at the World Health Organisation and the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) – related to providing adequate protection for this group through vaccination.

“This aims to preserve their (pregnant women and feeding mothers) health and safety through acquisition of immunity against the virus.”

The announcement follows new data last week revealing that pregnant women become infected with the new coronavirus at higher rates than other adults.

Between March and June in Washington state, for every 1,000 pregnant women, there were 14 cases of Covid-19, compared with seven cases among every 1,000 non-pregnant adults aged 20 to 39, researchers found.

After accounting for other risk factors, the Covid-19 rate in pregnant women was found to be 70 per cent higher than in non-pregnant adults, a report in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gyneacology said.

The new study “strongly suggests that pregnant people should be broadly prioritised for Covid-19 vaccine allocation,” the researchers concluded.

Dr Al Hajeri stressed that the vaccination was aimed at preventing the virus infection and its complications, especially in light of the rapid spread of the new mutated strain.

Women can register through the ministry’s website or through the BeAware application.

They will be contacted by health personnel according to the schedule, said Dr Al Hajeri, adding that “vaccination is optional, but a necessity to keep everyone healthy”.

“It is important that breastfeeding and pregnant mothers get vaccinated to protect themselves from the virus, and in turn contribute to the health and safety of everyone,” she said.

According to an update earlier this month, CDC and the independent advisory committee on immunisation practices (ACIP) recommended Covid-19 vaccination for “certain groups” including pregnant women.

“Pregnant people are at increased risk for severe illness from Covid-19,” said the CDC.

“Observational data demonstrated that pregnant people with Covid-19 have an increased risk of severe illness, including illness that results in intensive care unit admission, mechanical ventilation, and death compared with non-pregnant women of reproductive age.

“Additionally, pregnant women with Covid-19 might be at increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth, compared with pregnant women without Covid-19.”

However, CDC stressed that vaccination was a “personal choice” for pregnant women.

It also added that there are neither data on the safety of Covid-19 vaccines in lactating women nor on the effects of mRNA vaccines on the breastfed infant or on milk production/excretion.

“mRNA vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant,” it said.

The CDC added that people who are breastfeeding and are part of the recommended group for a Covid-19 jab, such as healthcare personnel, “may choose to be vaccinated”.




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