The guidelines on coronavirus inoculation for pregnant women in Malaysia, which were only announced Monday, came “too late” since thousands have already gotten their jabs, said Hannah Yeoh, the former deputy minister for women, family, and community development.
Yeoh, 42, was criticizing the recent clarification on vaccination by Khairy Jamaluddin, the minister in charge of the country’s vaccination rollout, who said there was insufficient data to prove that the AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines were safe for pregnant mothers. His statement came months after the vaccination program began, which included the rolling out of Sinovac shots in March, and those by AstraZeneca earlier this month. It is not clear how many pregnant mothers have gotten their shots.
“While I welcome this clarification in view of the genuine fears and concerns shared by expectant and nursing mothers in relation to receiving Covid vaccination, the announcement came too late and caused great distress among mothers who have received their AstraZeneca vaccination,” Yeoh wrote on Facebook today, calling for greater attention and support for expectant mothers who have taken coronavirus vaccines.
On Monday, Khairy said that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was suitable for women who were between week 14 and 33 of their pregnancy. However, there was still insufficient data to prove that those by Sinovac and AstraZeneca were safe for expectant mothers. His clarification reflected the details fleshed out in a now-deleted infographic that was published over the weekend by his special committee on ensuring access to COVID-19 vaccine. That graphic also said that all three vaccines were safe for breastfeeding mothers.
The voluntary opt-in for the AstraZeneca vaccination program began on May 5, nearly two weeks prior to Monday’s clarification by Khairy, who is also the Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation. That was also the first time he has ever said anything about the risk of coronavirus vaccines for pregnant women.
Yeoh, who is from the opposing Democratic Action Party, also suggested that the government provide financial assistance to pregnant mothers suffering from possible side effects caused by the vaccines, and to follow up on their medical condition.
“[Extend] the Covid-19 vaccine injury fund by the National Disaster Management Agency to cover these AZ Mothers (who have received their vaccination from the period between 5 – 17 May 2021) guaranteeing compensation ranging from RM50,000 – RM500,000 if they suffer side effects from being immunised,” she said. Compensation should also cover those who received Sinovac vaccines, she noted.
“The Perikatan Nasional Government’s default mode of ‘do first, plan later’ governance must be put to an end,” she added. “They cannot treat vaccination announcements the same way they meddle with flip-flop SOPs.”
Since the vaccine rollout began in March, 757,000 Malaysians have completed vaccination. About 300,000 have taken Sinovac’s vaccine and 268,000 are expected to take those by AstraZeneca.
Malaysia has reported 479,421 COVID-19 cases and 1,947 deaths since the outbreak began last year.
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This article, Safety guidelines on coronavirus vaccination for pregnant moms ‘too late’: Hannah Yeoh, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.