Pregnancy and Covid-19: what vaccine can I take in Dubai?

The emirate offers jabs to expectant mothers, with the first recommended from the 13th week of pregnancy

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Vaccinations are now available in Covid-19 centres across the emirate, Dubai Health Authority announced on Tuesday.

The DHA will offer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

It recommends the first of two shots should be taken from the 13th week of pregnancy. Expectant mothers should consult their doctors beforehand.

Dr Muna Tahlak, executive director of the Latifa Hospital for women and children in Dubai, said the directive would protect women.

The National examines the risk of Covid-19 to pregnant women and vaccine safety.

How safe is it to have the vaccine during pregnancy?

As is typical when testing new vaccines, out of an abundance of caution early clinical trials for Covid-19 jabs excluded pregnant women.

However, after it was established that the vaccines were safe, pregnant women were included in some studies. In February, for example, Pfizer and BioNTech began looking at whether their vaccine was safe and well tolerated in pregnant women, and stimulated a good immune response.

In a posting last month, the UK’s National Institute for Health Research, a government agency, said more than 100,000 women had been vaccinated in the US against Covid-19 “without any safety concerns raised”.

Which Covid-19 vaccine should pregnant women receive?

More extensive data has been conducted on the use of vaccines such as 
Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna for pregnant women. Courtesy: Reuters

There has been more data gathered about the safety during pregnancy of mRNA vaccines, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna jabs, largely as a result of their use in pregnant women in the US.

As a result, mRNA vaccines are typically favoured for pregnant women, and this is the approach Dubai has followed by administering the Pfizer-BioNTech jab to expectant mothers.

Similarly, the UK’s National Health Service says “it’s preferable” for pregnant women to have the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shots. However, in its advice for the UK, the NHS says if a pregnant woman received a first shot of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab and did not suffer any side effects, she should have it for her second dose too.

Are pregnant women particularly affected by Covid-19?

In comments earlier this year, Dr William Gruber, Pfizer’s senior vice president of vaccine clinical research and development, said pregnant women faced “an increased risk of complications and developing severe Covid-19” if they became infected. Although severe illness from Covid-19 is rare in pregnant women, the UK’s NHS states issues are likely to become more serious later in pregnancy.

Women with underlying health conditions are especially vulnerable. The UK government says pregnant women with Covid-19 are more likely than women of the same age who are not pregnant to be admitted to intensive care. Also, catching Covid-19 during pregnancy is thought to result in a two to three-fold increase in the risk of premature birth.

These factors may influence a pregnant woman’s decision on whether to become vaccinated.

What is the situation for breastfeeding women or those trying to become pregnant?

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says there is limited data on the safety of Covid-19 vaccines on breastfeeding women and their babies.

However, it also states that because of the way these vaccines function, they are not thought to pose a risk to breastfeeding women or their babies, so it says such women can receive a Covid-19 jab, a view shared by the World Health Organisation.

The UK’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists additionally states that new mothers should not stop breastfeeding in order to be vaccinated. Rumours have spread online suggesting Covid-19 vaccination affects fertility, but experts have said these are false.

The NHS is among many official bodies to confirm the Covid-19 vaccination does not affect a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant, and vaccinated women do not have to avoid trying to become pregnant.

Updated: July 06, 2021, 10:05 AM