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  • FAQs Answered: What Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women Need To Know About COVID-19 Vaccine

    For starters, COVID-19 vaccine is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
    by Angela Baylon .
FAQs Answered: What Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women Need To Know About COVID-19 Vaccine
PHOTO BY shutterstock
  • Being pregnant or having a newborn in itself is stressful. All the more difficult when you're going through it during a health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. In times like this, the first thing you should do is arm yourself with the correct information to guide you in choosing the best option for you and your baby.

    Right now, aside from following basic safety precautions, such as wearing face masks and keeping physical distancing, our best shot at combating COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. However, many moms-to-be and new moms are struggling to make this decision.

    On a Facebook live on January 20, 2022, the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) invited experts from the Philippine Obstetrical And Gynecological Society (POGS) to set facts straight about the efficacy and safety of the COVID-19 vaccine on pregnant and breastfeeding women.

    Frequently asked questions on COVID-19 vaccines while pregnant or breastfeeding answered:

    Question: Is the COVID-19 vaccine recommended for pregnant women?

    Answer: Yes

    There is no evidence of adverse maternal or fetal effects from vaccinating pregnant individuals with the COVID-19 vaccine.

    Although there is limited data on vaccinating pregnant women during the first trimester, available studies suggest no adverse effects when getting vaccinated during this period, according to Dr. Sybil Lizanne Bravo of POGS.

    How about breastfeeding women?

    Answer: Yes

    Bravo says, "There is no need to discontinue breastfeeding in patients who receive the COVID-19 vaccine." Studies also prove the "transfer of antibodies through the breastmilk from the mother to the baby."

    Question: Are there any side effects pregnant and breastfeeding women should be wary about?

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    Answer: No.

    Side effects are the same with the general population, i.e., injection-site pain, redness, fatigue, headache, fever, muscle pain. All of these do not affect pregnancy.

    Question: Can the COVID-19 vaccine result in miscarriage or birth defects?

    Answer: No.

    Bravo cited studies in the US, Canada, and parts of Europe that show the COVID-19 vaccine does not increase the risk of miscarriage and congenital disabilities.

    Bravo even cited a study that shows that the risk of miscarriage is higher for those who are unvaccinated since they are more prone to contract COVID-19.

    Question: Is COVID-19 vaccine booster dose recommended for pregnant women and breastfeeding moms?

    Answer: Yes.

    All adults (18 years old and above) who have received their 1st and 2nd dose of COVID-19 should get a booster dose at least three months from the 2nd dose.

    Those vaccinated with J&J vaccine brand can get a booster dose at least two months after.

    Is there a specific brand recommended for booster dose?

    Vaccinees can receive the same brand of COVID-19 vaccine for their primary and booster doses. See chart below for heterologous booster dose or if booster dose is different from the brand received for 1st and 2nd dose.

     

    PHOTO BY screengrab facebook/department of health (philippines)
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    IMPORTANT: Sputnik-V COVID-19 vaccine is not recommended to be administered on pregnant and breastfeeding women due to a lack of study proving its safety and efficacy on pregnant and breastfeeding women.

    Question: Can she still receive the vaccine or booster dose if a pregnant or breastfeeding woman has contracted COVID-19?

    Answer: Yes.

    According to Dr. Cara Madrigal-Dy, the rule is to get vaccinated at least two weeks from when the patient first experienced COVID-19 symptoms.

    Question: Is it safe for babies to breastfeed from a mom who received the COVID-19 vaccine?

    Answer: Yes.

    As mentioned above, while there is a side effect, it is a positive one. Presence of antibodies is detected on breastmilk, giving babies more protection.

    "Mayroon po itong protective effect against the infant acquiring the disease. Meaning po, 'pag ang isang bata nakuha niya ang antibodies through breastmilk sa kaniyang nanay malaki po ang chance na hindi siya mahahawaan ng COVID-19 sa first three to six months of life niya po," Bravo explained.

    Health experts also answered questions on the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 drugs for pregnant patients. Dr. Maria Julieta Germar of POGS says it is always best for pregnant women to consult their obstetrician. She adds that common medicine for flu-like symptoms is safe for intake. However, she discourages the use of the drug molnupiravir, currently being used to treat COVID-19.

    Facts are clear: Pregnant and breastfeeding women should get vaccinated against COVID-19

    For those who are still having questions or doubts about whether or not they should get the vaccine, Germar has this message:

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    "Ang buntis ay pwedeng mabakunhan ng COVID-19 vaccine. Mas masama o mas malaki 'yung risk kapag hindi sila nabakunahan. Very. very mild lang if ever 'yung mga side effects... Pero 'yung kapalit kapag hindi sila nabakunahan ay malubha.

    "Magpabakuna po tayo at magpa-booster po 'yung mga buntis."

    Watch the full press briefing here:

    Click here for FAQs on COVID-19 vaccine for minors.

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