Breast feeding, pregnant, menstruating women can get vaccine: Doc

Health Watch

WHAT is the guidance for vaccination of women with breast feeding infants, women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant and women who are menstruating? What about vaccines and fertility? World Health Organisation’s chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan explains:
What is your advice to women who are breast feeding infants? Should they get vaccinated?
Women who are breast feeding their babies can take the Covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them. There is no risk at all because none of the vaccines being used presently have the live virus in it. There’s no risk of transmission through breast milk. In fact, the antibodies that the mother has can go through the breast milk to the baby and may only serve maybe to protect the baby a little bit. But there’s absolutely no harm. It’s very safe.
What about women who are pregnant or are planning to get pregnant?
That’s really important because pregnancy is a very special situation because we are concerned about the health of the mother and that of the unborn child. That’s why with any drug or vaccine that is administered during pregnancy, we always take special care to make sure that there is no potential safety concern or any adverse event. In the case of the Covid-19, we know that pregnant women are at a higher risk of getting severe Covid-19 and, also, at higher risk of delivering a baby prematurely. So, in situations where there is a lot of Covid-19 transmission, and a woman is exposed to it, or if she is a healthcare worker or a frontline worker where she’s at high risk of acquiring the infection, the benefits of getting the vaccine definitely outweigh the risks, particularly since the platforms that we used currently for vaccines are the messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) platform, inactivated viruses or the viral vectored platforms or subunit proteins. None of them have a live virus that can multiply within the body and that could potentially create a problem. So, I think it’s important that pregnant women in every country be explained the benefits versus the risks and be offered the vaccine if they would like to take it.
Should women get vaccinated when they’re menstruating?
There is nothing scientifically to come in the way of a menstruating woman taking the vaccine, apart from the fact that she may feel a bit tired. But, if that’s the date on which you have a vaccine appointment, and you happen to have your periods, there’s absolutely no problem in going ahead and getting the vaccine.
We hear a lot of misinformation about vaccines and fertility and infertility. Could you please explain the science behind this?
It’s a common myth. There is absolutely no scientific evidence or truth behind this concern that vaccines somehow interfere with fertility, either in men or in women. What vaccines do is to stimulate an immune response against that particular protein or antigen of that virus or bacteria. So, in this case, the Covid-19 vaccine stimulates both antibody response and a cell mediated immune response against the spike protein of the Sars-CoV-2 virus. There is no way in which they could interfere with the functioning of the reproductive organs in either men or women. I think people can be rest assured that these vaccines in no way interfere with fertility.

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