Pregnant, breastfeeding women should take COVID vaccines

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…at increased risk of complications if adversely affected by virus

By Lisa Hamilton

Pregnant women who become COVID-19 positive can run the risk of becoming severely ill with an increased risk of hospitalization, developing blood clots, being admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and, worst-case scenario, death.

This is why Head of Medical Services and Cardiology at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), Dr. Mahendra Carpen is encouraging pregnant women to take the COVID-19 vaccine which he assured is safe for the mother and her unborn child or children.

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During his recent COVID-19 update to the public, Dr. Carpen said the only persons who should not take the COVID-19 vaccine are those with a history of severe, allergic reactions to vaccines. These persons, he said, represent less than 1 percent of the population which means that the rest of the population is eligible for the vaccine, granted that they follow the existing regulations as it relates to age.

On the other hand, Dr. Carpen said there have been concerns expressed by pregnant women about taking the vaccine. “Pregnant women can take the vaccine and they should take the vaccine,” he assured.

Head of Medical Services and Cardiology at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), Dr. Mahendra Carpen

“Hospitalised pregnant women with COVID-19 are at increased risk for severe illness. So you want your pregnant women to be vaccinated so that they could reduce their chances of becoming severely ill…some of the hospitalized pregnant women who had symptoms had very severe outcomes.”

Apart from this, he said that post-pregnancy, there have been questions about the risks associated with breastfeeding while COVID-19 positive.

In such a case, Dr. Carpen said that it is recommended that the mother continues to breastfeed the child while adhering to the COVID-19 protocols such as wearing a facemask and sanitising. If a breastfeeding or a pregnant woman takes the COVID-19 vaccine, the baby develops immunity either transmitted through the breastmilk or in the womb through the blood supply.

“That is one of the additional benefits of actually taking the COVID-19 vaccine when you are pregnant. If the mom develops the immunity properly after being fully vaccinated then those antibodies or soldier defence mechanisms that the mom has, those can then be transmitted through the blood to the baby and the baby then develops its own immunity which comes from the mother,” he explained

Dr. Carpen said that the information he presented on pregnant and breastfeeding women is not the opinions held in Guyana, but based on information shared by established International authorities.

He reminded that it is still a choice for pregnant and breastfeeding women whether they want to be vaccinated or not but the Government of Guyana encourages COVID-19 vaccination as it has no adverse impact on pregnancy, breastfeeding, fertility, the menstrual cycle and puberty.



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