June 15, 2021 5:30:03 pm
Addressing some of the frequently asked questions about Covid-19 vaccination, Dr V K Paul, member (health), NITI Aayog, and Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, recently said that according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s new recent guidelines, “vaccine is absolutely safe for lactating mothers”.
“There is a very clear guideline regarding this — the vaccine is absolutely safe for lactating mothers. There is no need for any fear. There is no need to stop or pause breastfeeding either before or after vaccination,” said Dr Paul.
The WHO’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has also recommended that any suitable coronavirus vaccine can be given to women who are breastfeeding. It states that while clinical trials on the use of coronavirus vaccines while breastfeeding are not advanced, the available data do not indicate any harm to the breastfed infant. ‘If you are breastfeeding, or planning to breastfeed, you can continue breastfeeding after vaccination‘, WHO said.
WHO said that the vaccines are still largely safe to take since they do not involve injecting a live virus into the body, and thus aren’t contraindicative for use when a woman is breastfeeding.
As such, new mothers — actor Addite Malik and singer Shreya Ghoshal — recently took to social media to share that they took their first jabs.
Malik urged all nursing women to take the shot. “And yes, I was vaccinated today. A lot of questions on whether nursing women should get vaccinated or not and as per the latest studies and reports, it’s completely safe for us, too. However, I also checked with my doctors and then took the decision to take the jab. I’m trusting the science and I know the future is better with each one of us that takes the decision to get vaccinated,” she said.
However, she did advise consulting one’s gynaecologist. “For all of you out there wondering if it’s safe for you to get vaccinated if you are pregnant or nursing, do the research, but with it, speak to your doctor regarding the pros and cons. And as I’ve always said in the end go with what your heart says! It’s a tough decision and it’s your decision!” she opined.
Ghoshal, who took Covidshield, said, “It’s absolutely safe for new mothers to get vaccinated for covid as recommended by my doctors. Just like anyone else, if your are a nursing mother, you too can get your shots.”
But what do doctors say?
“Vaccines used in international studies are different from the ones available here, and we have no data to suggest that vaccine use is advisable for pregnant women. We also lack any data corroborating the safety of vaccination in lactating mothers. However, pregnant women and lactating mothers can consult their gynaecologist to ascertain if the risk of exposure to coronavirus is greater than the risk of vaccination and decide accordingly,” say Max Healthcare doctors while answering FAQs about the vaccine.
Since there is no clinical evidence to suggest that pregnant or lactating women are more likely to be infected by COVID-19 than the general population, they should maintain a nutritious diet which is high on vitamins, micronutrients, and proteins, wash hands regularly, wear a mask if going out and maintain social distancing.
When cases are rampantly spreading and affecting both mothers as well as newborn babies, the decision of including lactating mothers in the vaccination drive has been the biggest respite, mentioned Dr Shuchin Bajaj, founder and director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals. “Though none of the vaccines which are available in India has involved lactating mothers in the clinical trial, doctors and WHO have stated that vaccines don’t pose any threat to a nursing mother. They came to this conclusion after seeing the trends of how these vaccines work in the body. Recent reports by Center for Disease Control, US, have shown that breastfeeding women who have received COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have antibodies in their breastmilk, which could help protect their babies,” said Dr Bajaj.
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