Amid a robust COVID-19 vaccination programme in Malaysia, there are still people who are wary of the vaccine, pregnant mothers and those trying to conceive included. Dr. Sumithra Devi Valiapan, fertility specialist at Kuala Lumpur-based Sunfert International Fertility Centre (Sunfert), citing multinational safety data on COVID-19 vaccination in pregnant women, said vaccination is the best form protection against severe COVID-19 infection in pregnancy.
According to Dr. Sumithra, pregnant women are more susceptible to severe COVID-19 infections especially in the late second and throughout the third trimesters of pregnancy – the complications are such that will need intensive care (ICU) admission and ventilatory support; and is likely to cause premature birth.
Thankfully, the COVID-19 vaccines – all approved for use in pregnant women by the Ministry of Health (MOH) Malaysia – are non-live vaccines and have not shown to be of any harm to the mother, her pregnancy, or her baby. There is also no evidence to suggest that the vaccines will impact a woman’s fertility potential, miscarriage rates, or abnormalities in her newborn.
Fertility experts at Sunfert nevertheless encourage all patients to be fully vaccinated prior to commencing fertility treatment as complications and fatalities have been reported only among pregnant women who have not taken the full course of the vaccine. The number of COVID-19 fatalities involving pregnant Malaysian women stands at 144, as of September 14, 2021.
“We have been continuously educating the public via our regular online webinars on the importance of being fully vaccinated in order to minimise risks to themselves and their pregnancies as COVID-19 is easily transmitted among high-risk individuals,” said Lakshmi Menon, General Manager, Sunfert International.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin also continuously advocates vaccination, saying the COVID-19 vaccines are effective and safe for use by pregnant women and does not cause increased risks to their foetuses.