Former minister Yeo Bee Yin has called on the government to pay extra attention to the conditions facing pregnant women who take part in the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.
The Bakri MP, who herself is 17 weeks pregnant and just received her first vaccine dose on Sunday, wanted the government to gather clinical data for pregnant women from different brands of vaccines under the country’s procurement plan.
"Not every vaccine is created equal; they should scrutinise them and make sure that the vaccines being administered to the pregnant women population are safe for pregnancy."
In Malaysia, most of the pregnant women are in phase three of the vaccination programme (younger population), but the type of vaccines being administered to them is still yet to be determined.
"The decision must be made based on sufficient data on pregnant women. The government should also decide at which stage of pregnancy the women should be vaccinated if she decides to be vaccinated.
"As of now, most of them will be scheduled to be vaccinated according to the age group with no consideration of the timing and stage of pregnancy," Yeo (above) said in a statement.
She said last Sunday afternoon, she had her first dose of vaccine in Dewan Maharani, Muar, according to the government’s plan for MPs to get vaccinated in the first phase.
She praised the professionalism of the officers, saying that the process was smooth and efficient and aside from a sore arm, she was feeling no side effects.
Yeo added that she decided to take the vaccine after reading reports and consulting her gynaecologist because of the nature of her work, which regularly exposed her to the virus.
She also highlighted that the immunisation programme had only listed pregnant women in the healthcare sector as a priority group.
“But what about pregnant women working in other sectors, both public and private, who have an equal risk of exposure?”
In February, Health Minister Dr Adham Baba had said that women who are pregnant will be permitted to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, subject to a risk assessment performed by their healthcare consultants.
He said similar risk assessments can also be applied to breastfeeding mothers or women who are trying to conceive.
Yeo said decisions and recommendations by the government for pregnant women must be communicated effectively, such as making it compulsory for all obstetricians and gynaecologists to explain to their patients in a standardised easy-to-understand brochure that is available in different languages.
"Such an initiative by the government will be greatly appreciated by the pregnant women population as they give peace of mind to them, many of whom are already going through morning sickness or other difficult pregnancy symptoms, mood swings and anxiety of getting infected with Covid-19 due to the risk of complications," she added.