Not for pregnant and breastfeeding women

Dr Tan Cheng Siang

KUCHING: Despite the relatively low risk, pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised to defer taking the Covid-19 vaccine first unless they are taking part in the vaccine trial.

Dr Tan Cheng Siang, a virologist at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Science, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), said the risk of developing severe Covid-19 was clear, including old age, obesity, chronic kidney disease, diabetes etc, and pregnancy and breastfeeding had not been associated as the risk factors, nor had there been any report that children born to severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 SARS-CoV-2 positive mothers and breastfeeding mothers were affected in any way.

“This would suggest the spike glycoprotein of the SARS-CoV-2 has no adverse effect on pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers,” he said today.

He said however the vaccine concoction contained other chemicals as preservative and polyethylene glycol (PEG) that may cause a severe allergic reaction.

“In this case, there is still a lack of data on the vaccination trial on this group of volunteers (pregnant and breastfeeding women).”

Dr Tan was prompted for comments on Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Medical Microbiology lecturer Associate Professor Dr Niazlin Mohd Taib’s statement that pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised to defer taking the Covid-19 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to avoid any possible side effects.

On the question of whether it is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women should they take the vaccine, he said the safety recommendation for vaccination has to be evidence-based, and not opinion-based.

“Proper vaccine clinical trials must be conducted on pregnant and breastfeeding women before any advice can be given. We should wait for the Ministry of Health (MoH) to issue their recommendation before making any decision.”

He added, the published safety and efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines are linked to the specific vaccine manufacturer and cannot be generalised to be the same for all.

“If you are to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, do make sure that the information about the vaccine that you have read and understood corresponded to the actual vaccine that you are going to receive,” said Dr Tan.