Durban – The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) has come under fire over utterances made in a media statement, suggesting that the Covid-19 vaccine could alter a women’s menstrual cycle.
According to the statement, the CGE warns against mandatory vaccinations for employees and students.
The CGE states that a medical journal reported that vaccines may cause a small change to the menstrual length but this change is temporary.
"... While health experts believe this finding in not clinically significant, the commission to would like to caution businesses and various institutes against forcing employees to vaccinate and imposing harsh sanctions on them if they do not," the statement read.
President of the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa, Professor Priya Soma-Pillay,, said that at this stage in the pandemic, the benefits of vaccination far outweigh any possible risks.
She added that they were concerned that the commission has isolated one particular study to suggest negative implications for women who take the Covid-19 vaccination.
"If we look at this study in detail, Edelman et al followed the menstrual cycle pattern of 2 403 individuals before and after vaccination and compared cycle patterns to 1 556 unvaccinated individuals.
“The cohort of individuals in the vaccinated group received the Pfizer-BioNTech (55%), Moderna (35%) or Johnson &Johnson/Janssen (7%) vaccines. Covid-19 vaccination was associated with a 0.7-day increase in cycle-length following the first vaccine dose and a 0.9-day increase in cycle-length following the second vaccine dose," Soma-Pillay explained.
She added that individuals who received the Johnson&Johnson/Janssen vaccine received only one vaccine dose. Soma-Pillay said that Covid-19 vaccination was not associated with changes in menses length (days of bleeding) but rather a slightly longer time between bleeding.
She said that this change was temporary and menses retuned to “normal” in all subjects. There is no correlation or association with a change in ovulation and/or fertility mentioned in this study.
The South African Medical Research Council has also distanced itself from the statement.
The SAMRC expressed concerns with the statements made by the CGE which could fuel anti-vaccinate sentiment and compromise the national vaccination programme.
It said while the commission is at liberty to express itself on the matter of mandatory Covid-19 vaccination and how this may impinge on constitutional rights, it should, as a responsible and respected public institution, confine itself to the known scientific facts of the effects of vaccination and should not conflate selective scientific references with its position on vaccine mandates.
"By misinterpreting the medical consequences of a slight lengthening of the menstrual cycles in a very small number of women following vaccination, among the billions of women who have been vaccinated worldwide, the commission’s statement inappropriately creates confusion and fear in the minds of women who have been vaccinated and is likely to increase vaccine hesitancy among women," the SAMRC said.
It called on the CGE to withdraw its statement.