- The outcome of trial vaccines on pregnant women showed no adverse pregnancy-related outcomes
- During trials where the vaccine was administered to animals, no safety concerns were found in the animals or their babies
- Early data has suggested that the Covid-19 vaccine does not cause infection in pregnant women or their babies and simultaneously reduces the risk of infection.
In South Africa, where less than 14% of the population is fully vaccinated and close to half of South Africans aged 18-24 told a survey that they are hesitant to take the Covid-19 jab, health professionals are raising their concerns about the consequences of vaccine hesitancy.
Including individuals with comorbidities, pregnant and recently pregnant people are at an increased risk for severe illness from Covid-19 when compared with non-pregnant people.
When one is pregnant, it is understood that one might want to err on the side of caution.
It may prove helpful to be aware of the benefits of being vaccinated before or during pregnancy and to point out the reassuring results that are presented by data.
"Previously, the immunisation awareness in antenatal classes, such as those provided by the experienced nurses at Netcare mother and baby wellness clinics, was primarily focused on the baby to reduce child mortality. Now it has also become important to also make parents aware that both mothers and babies are safer when the mother has been vaccinated against Covid-19," says Verena Bolton, national coordinator of Netcare Ncelisa human milk banks.
Not only are pregnant people with Covid-19 at higher risk of preterm birth, but they are more vulnerable to adverse pregnancy outcomes in comparison to pregnant women without Covid-19.
Vaccination of pregnant people builds antibodies that might protect their baby and offers significant protection against the virus for pregnant women and their unborn babies.
Furthermore, scientists did not find an increased risk for miscarriage among people who received an mRNA Covid-19 vaccine during pregnancy, and though studies are ongoing, the prognosis appears to be positive.
"Maternity safety starts well before birth with antenatal care, as taking care of the health of the mother-to-be and her unborn baby automatically contributes to their ongoing wellbeing. A recently updated circular from the Department of Health advises that pregnant women should be informed that they face a slightly higher risk of severe Covid-19 disease, and should be offered the vaccine during any stage of pregnancy or breastfeeding," says Bolton.
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