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Dr Adesh Sirjusingh

Anna-Lisa Paul

The Director of Women’s Health, Ministry of Health (MoH) Dr Adesh Sirjusingh says pregnant women are susceptible to the adverse effects of the virus if they are not immunised.

Referring specifically to pregnant persons over the age of 35; those in their latter half of pregnancy; persons who are overweight and/or suffering patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart issues or asthma – Sirjusingh yesterday said two per cent of this cohort usually end up in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or the High Dependency Unit (HDU).

Referring to the two women who had died after delivering their babies due to complications from COVID-19, he revealed that since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, a total of 657 pregnant women had tested positive for the virus.

Speaking during the MOH’s media briefing yesterday, he provided a break-down which detailed that 58 was recorded last year; 283 between January to June 2021; 75 in July 2021; 125 in August 2021; and 116 up to September 17.

Sirjusingh said 530 pregnant women had so far received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

The Sinopharm vaccine is approved for breastfeeding women but not for those who are pregnant

In a related development, the ministry yesterday announced its expanded vaccination programme for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

In a release, the ministry advised that pregnant and breastfeeding populations as well as members of the general public, should take note of the following:

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for breastfeeding women, as well as pregnant women in their 2nd and 3rd trimester of pregnancy. The two-dose regime can be given during pregnancy or begin after delivery.

The Sinopharm vaccine is approved for breastfeeding women but not for those who are pregnant.

COVID-19 vaccine combination

Officials said if a woman received a first dose of the Sinopharm vaccine before pregnancy, she should not be given the Pfizer vaccine during pregnancy as the second dose.

They said, “She can complete the two-dose Sinopharm regime after pregnancy. Clinicians should check for the latest guidance on this scenario.”

“If a woman received one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine before pregnancy, she is eligible for a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine as her second dose, once she is in her 2nd or 3rd trimester of pregnancy. A woman will be considered to be fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose. A third vaccine dose is not required.”

The ministry said as scientific data evolves, this advice may change to include other combinations of vaccines.

On the issue of whether the COVID-19 vaccines have been adversely impacting the menstrual cycles of women, Sirjusingh said there had been no clinical reporting of menstrual irregularities from women who took the COVID-19 vaccine in T&T.

He said, “We haven’t received any direct reports of women or health care practitioners that there has been an increase of cases being reported.”

Adding that there were many causes of menstrual disruption, Sirjusingh said current circumstances had led to stressful times and that if a person had noticed an unusual change in their cycle for any reason, they should not hesitate to visit their doctor for a medical check-up