Women planning pregnancy are being advised not to take the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine jab as a precautionary measure, until further studies are available, according to UAE doctors.
Though the vaccine eligibility circle is expanding at a rapid clip, women looking to start a family along with lactating mothers have several questions about the benefits and risks of taking the jab.
An obstetrician or a gynecologist is best placed to give an opinion about the threat to SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19.
Dr Nusarat Tadkod, an obstetrician and a gynecologist, who is attached to Prime Medical Centre at the Barsha Heights branch, said: “Women planning pregnancy should consider carefully about taking the jab. Women planning to take vaccines should avoid pregnancy for the next three months.”
She added: “The vaccines are still not considered safe for women, who are pregnant or breastfeeding their babies. Lactating mothers should continue breast feeding to ensure good immunity of their babies. They can take the jab after six months of child birth.”
Pregnant women are recommended to continue following safety measures such as wearing masks and adhering to hand hygiene as well as avoiding crowded places, as they are considered to be a high-risk category.
Dr Usha Kiran, a consultant obstetrician and gynecologist with Prime Hospital, said, “At present, as the vaccine is new and there is no data available on its effect on pregnancy, we need to avoid planning a family for three to six months.”
She added, “For lactating mothers, passive transfer of antibodies may be beneficial. However, we don’t know the immune response of a lactating mother to this new vaccine.”
While the Covid-19 vaccination is not believed to affect future fertility, and many argue it may have potential benefits even for pregnant women or lactating mothers, it continues to raise several unanswered questions.
Doctors said the people would learn more about the safety of the Covid-19 vaccine during pregnancy and while breastfeeding from animal studies that are in progress and also from human trials.
Dr Elizabeth Mathew and Dr Jamalunnisa Gaffar, who are attached to Medeor Hospital in Dubai, said: “There are no risks associated with giving non-live vaccines (such as Pfizer and BioNTech) during pregnancy, as these jabs can neither replicate nor cause infection in either a pregnant woman or her unborn child. However, the available data is insufficient to recommend the routine use of Covid-19 vaccine during pregnancy.”
Vaccination drive gets a shot in the arm
Some medical centres, which are administering China’s Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine, said the waiting list runs into several weeks following an uptick in demand.
Some private healthcare centres are 100 per cent booked until March. There is a discernible trend that more men are volunteering to take the jab than women.
Dr Ramzi Alshaiba, a Medical Director and Specialist of General Surgery at Bareen International Hospital, MBZ City, Abu Dhabi, said: “We’ve observed that there are more middle-aged patients than senior citizens, who have volunteered to take the jab. When we began the Covid-19 vaccine programme at Bareen International Hospital, on an average, up to 200 patients signed up for taking the jab a day. This trend was evident between December 13 and January 5.”
He said more people started volunteering from January 6 onwards. He lauded the community support to take the jab.
Bareen International Hospital authorities have decided to instal a makeshift tent outside their premises to accommodate more patients at any given day.
“Our tent provides full access to all required vaccine procedures: from checking a patient’s vital signs to registering in the system to consultation with the doctor, and administering the vaccine. We’ve administered around 6,000 jabs in the past six days. The record is giving over 1,200 jabs on a day,” Dr Alshaiba added.
The Sinopharm vaccine is available across the UAE free of charge at dozens of hospitals, medical centres, majlis and clinics.
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