There are altogether 3 different vaccinations, you will be introduced to when you are pregnant. And whenever it comes to vaccinations, there are always mix feelings to whether or not we should be vaccinated. It can be a difficult decision to make for most of us as we are not sure if the vaccine really works and if it is good for our pregnant state but at the same time, we have the tugging feeling of fear that something bad might happen because we chose not to be vaccinated.
So here we are, to look at these 3 Vaccines commonly recommended and highly encouraged to take by our gynecologists or by the MOH.
Influenza vaccine/ Flu Vaccine. The flu vaccine really is to protect the pregnant mommy against flu virus as our immunity can be really vulnerable during pregnancy. And this is the main reason why pregnant mommies are strongly encouraged to take the vaccine as the low immunity within our bodies during pregnancy can cause more complications and in the worst scenario; death if we are infected with influenza.
At the same time, as infants younger than 6 months cannot be given flu vaccines, the flu vaccine can provide passive protection of antibodies for your baby through your placenta. Some mommies will not feel anything adverse post-vaccination. Some will fall sick with flu-like symptoms post-vaccination. It is highly dependent on each individual. Hence, some mommies might find the irony that pre-vaccination, they weren't falling sick but yet they fall sick after they take the jab.
The Whooping Cough Vaccine/ Pertussis. This vaccine is necessary really for the fetus as babies are unable to be injected with the whooping cough in the first two months after they are born. According to the statistics given by Singhealth, unvaccinated infants who are less than 12months of age have high risk of severe illness. The only way to give these newborn infants the antibodies is by giving it to the pregnant mommies first.
One thing to note is that it is uncertain how much protection your baby will have after he/she is born as the whooping cough vaccine wanes over time after the injection. The vaccination site can feel sore for about one week or two. You can take this vaccine from between 16th week to 32rd week of your pregnancy.
Covid 19 Vaccinations. There are altogether 3 different types of vaccines anyone can choose from. You should only take one type. And for any type of vaccine you choose, you are required to do it twice (2 doses). This pandemic we are living with seemed to be here to stay. And while we want to re-open the country progressively; we are all trying to 'move on with our lives' to treat this pandemic more like an endemic, the Ministry of Health encourages all of us to be vaccinated to build a collective protection. The idea of the more people get vaccinated (protected), the lesser chances of transmission. Although there are still chances that after the vaccinations, you can still get infected, but hopefully with more people being fully vaccinated, resulting to lesser transmissions, lesser potential cluster emerging. And hopefully, life can be a little less restrictive.
The 3 vaccines approved in Singapore are the Morderna, Pfizer and the Sinovac. And there are 38 vaccination centers; while 11 of them are supplied with Morderna. Sinovac is only available in certain designated clinics.
Moderna. This vaccine uses the new messenger RNA technology which injects parts of the virus's genetic material into the body. This will cause the cells to create a protein that will trigger an immune response to allow our bodies to produce the antibodies to fight the virus. At this point, Moderna’s efficacy rate is at 94%. It is recommended for people above 18years old and above and the 1st dose and 2nd dose needs to be taken 28 days apart.
Pfizer. This vaccine similar to Moderna, also uses the mRNA technology, injects the genetic material of the virus and allow our bodies to produce the antibodies to fight against the virus. This vaccine is recommended for people 16 years and above, with a efficacy rate of 95%. However, there were rare occasions when the vaccines appeared to trigger anaphylaxis. The waiting period between the 1st dose and the 2nd dose is 21days. For both Moderna and Pfizer, the common side effects chills, headache, pain tiredness and/or redness at injection site, all of which generally resolve within a day or two of rest and with medication like Panadol.
Sinovac. This vaccine works by using killed viral particles, leaving the basic genetic information to expose the body's immune system to the virus without risking a serious disease response. The efficacy is 55%. And the waiting period between 1st dose and 2nd is 21days apart. For this vaccine, WHO listed it as a emergency use approval vaccine. Locally here in Singapore, MOH allows designated private clinics to Sinovac since June 2021.
The Covid19 vaccinations has at this point proven to be a huge dilemma for a lot of pregnant mommies simply because we do not know how these vaccinations can affect the fetus or even the pregnant momma as well. According to some studies of pregnant women taking the vaccines, traces of the antibodies were found in the baby, transferred through the placenta.
So, what are some of the Pros & Cons you can consider and/or do before picking up that appointment for your vaccination? HOW SAFE IS IT TO BE VACCINATED. There are the few things.....
First, the Covid19 vaccinations carries no live virus. Hence it generally does not cause harm to the fetus. And since the vaccine does not carry live viruses, it cannot cause any persons who take the jab to have the corona virus. Unlike for eg; the MMR (Rubella vaccine) contains a mixture of weaken live virus, which should never be administered to a pregnant women.
Ladies who are pregnant are more prone to complications and considered much higher risk if they contracts the Covid19 virus. Hence, getting vaccinated can help lower that risk.. So you got to weight your pros & cons. Are you a frontline worker? How exposed are you on a daily basis?
On hindsight, Singapore has decently low transmission in the community. So if you are pregnant and you are not roaming around too much (WFH etc...), at this point, it might not be that much of a priority to get vaccinated.
There is not enough data to prove anything specifically at all. Hence, there is no proof of any adverse effects whether in future, or long term negative effects on the baby or on the mother because Pfizer & Moderna only started trying to collect data on this specific group (pregnant women & any possible effects) since February 2021. In simple terms, we are still very early on this vaccinations discovery. And scientists have not really fully understand the Corona Virus. So if you decide to take the vaccine, it is by good faith you do it. (Fingers cross)
There is as of now; based on clinical trials on a small group of pregnant women and their fetus, no proven immediate harm on the pregnant momma nor on the baby. You get to sit there for 30 minutes post-vaccination at the vaccination center. If you are feeling fine there, you are deemed as fine.
You should discuss with your gynecologists on this decision as some doctors are pro the vaccinations, while some are not so supportive of it. Anyways, in order to be vaccinated, you will need your doctor's memo. Otherwise, no one will dare to jab any pregnant women. Who dares take this huge responsibility?
There were some talks that a letter was written to KKH regards to the Preliminary Findings Of mRNA Covid19 Vaccine Safety In Pregnant Persons, included a stillborn seemingly linked to the vaccination but no investigations were done. And out of a group of 4000 pregnant mommies who were vaccinated, there were data to prove that there were 700 out of 827 pregnant women who were vaccinated in their third trimester; with a (round up)14% of pregnancy loss. Hence there are suspicions that there could be certain level of under-reporting. (source NEJM org.)
Having said all these, we all know that the vaccinations were created in a rush and within a short span of time. The coronavirus2019 is essentially a very new virus which we have all never seen nor encounter before. To create vaccines which can protect us at 94% or 95%; honestly, what more can we ask for? But then again, being fully vaccinated also does not make us impenetrable. We all know there are cases of people who got infected by the virus though they were already vaccinated. And the dilemma of - if the vulnerable group of people should be vaccinated or not, even the governments can only suggest and encourage, but they also neither can enforce because there is no real sturdy, long term data to tell us the real effects of what really happens to a person who is fully vaccinated. It is only per one's individual decision if they feel they should or should not be vaccinated. I myself am not vaccinated as I am currently still breastfeeding. But of cuz, breastfeeding is merely a façade I used as an excuse because it is really that nagging dubious feeling deep inside of me of 'not knowing for sure' that makes me put off the vaccination.
Well, if you decide not to be vaccinated at this moment while you are pregnant, it will only meant prudence in where you go and wear your mask at all times. Otherwise, if you choose to take the vaccinations, take it and do not over-worry. By good faith, we make decisions, and this really the essence of parenthood - You will often be faced with making compelled decisions with no real, long term proven data; forcing to decide between the best of two evils. So... welcome to real parenthood.
And by the way, if you are taking the vaccine, the most common side effect was injection-site pain, with fatigue, headache, and muscles pain reported after the second dose. Fever was can happen too, in a small number of people after the first dose and in about a third of people after the second dose. And you can take the vaccine on 13th week on.
Article contributed by Bumpbirthbeyond Bump Birth & Beyond is helmed by a team of experts who provides parenting courses on baby care, breastfeeding, and many other learning courses to equip and ease new parents into the first 60 days of parenthood. Click here to register for their upcoming free breastfeeding class.