Breast-feeding and pregnant mothers eligible for Covid-19 vaccination says Health Department
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DURBAN - QUALIFYING pregnant and breast-feeding mothers are the latest group to be granted eligibility for the Covid-19 vaccine.
This is according to Department of Health spokesperson Popo Maja, who added that for now pregnant and breast-feeding mothers who were part of the essential services, such as health-care workers, education personnel, SAPS, the SANDF and anyone over 50 were eligible for the current roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines.
Maja said the vaccination guide had been widely communicated in both public and private health-care facilities using multiple channels, including emails and official WhatsApp groups.
“The eligibility continues to be clarified to avoid confusion. This guide is applicable for those who are eligible and pregnant,” said Maja.
In the Department of Health statement addressed to provincial health departments, Dr Nicholas Crisp, the deputy director-general for National Health Insurance, said that although pregnant women were at no greater risk of being infected by Sars-CoV-2, they and their infants were more likely to develop complications from Covid19.
The department said pregnant and lactating women were initially excluded from initial Covid-19 trials, pending data to guide their inclusion.
Crisp advised that clinical trials were now under way to determine the vaccine’s safety for pregnant and lactating mothers.
Crisp clarified that the Vaccine Ministerial Advisory Committee continually reviewed vaccine safety in pregnancy for all vaccines included, or being considered for inclusion, in the national vaccine roll-out.
The Comirnaty (Pfizer) and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines were highlighted as the ones to be offered to all eligible pregnant and breast-feeding women who had completed 14 weeks of gestation.
The statement also encouraged health-care workers to discuss the benefits and possible risks of Covid-19 vaccination with their patients.
“These discussions should include the fact that safety data for the vaccines in pregnancy and breast-feeding women are currently inadequate, as well as the strong immune response conferred to mothers following vaccination and the benefits of immune transfer to the baby.
“Furthermore, that there are no known risks associated with other non-live vaccines given routinely to pregnant women,” Crisp said.
Non-pregnant women contemplating pregnancy were also strongly encouraged to be vaccinated as soon as they were eligible.