Make clear whether AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, other brands safe for pregnant women, govt told

·2-min read
A nurse loads a syringe with a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the Dewan Gemilang UKM vaccination centre in Bangi May 5, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
A nurse loads a syringe with a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the Dewan Gemilang UKM vaccination centre in Bangi May 5, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, May 14 — Bakri MP Yeo Bee Yin has reiterated her call for the government to provide better information on whether it is safe for pregnant women to receive the UK-made AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, along with other brands of Covid-19 vaccines.

In a statement today, the former minister said that with Malaysia’s “skyrocketing” Covid-19 infection rates, many pregnant women were looking for confirmation if the AstraZeneca vaccine — which is currently available through limited registrations in the Klang Valley — is safe for them.

“The question that many pregnant women want confirmation from the government now is actually: Is Astra Zanecca vaccine safe for pregnant women?” she said.

“... Many pregnant women are now considering signing up for AstraZeneca when the next batch arrives instead of waiting for their turn in Phase 3 of vaccination roll-out.

“If AstraZeneca (vaccine) is not suitable for pregnant women, the government should give very clear instructions,” she added.

Yeo, who reportedly is herself 17-weeks pregnant, said when she received her vaccine during the first phase of Malaysia’s National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, she had to do her own research as to whether the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that she was assigned was safe for her.

She said she eventually found some information on the UK Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) website, which states there is limited UK data on Covid-19 vaccination and pregnancy.

“However, robust real-world data from the United States — where around 90,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated mainly with mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — have not raised any safety concerns,” according to the association.

RCOG also recommended that expectant mothers take the vaccination from week 13 of their pregnancy.

Yeo said this made her feel at ease that the Pfizer vaccine was safe for and that she was within the recommended stage of pregnancy to get vaccinated.

“But what about other pregnant women who are still waiting for their turn?

“We cannot leave this to the pregnant women to scramble themselves in finding out the solutions to protect themselves and the babies in their wombs. The government must communicate clear guidelines and plan for this vulnerable group,” she said.

Yesterday, Yeo had called on the government to collect more data on Covid-19 vaccines in relation to pregnancies, saying that the availability of such information deferred from one vaccine to another.

The information that is available from the Ministry of Health has since been compiled by local news portal Malaysiakini, which states that “pregnant and breastfeeding women are not advised to take the Sinovac or AstraZeneca vaccines” as there is a lack of related data.

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