Is it Safe for Pregnant Mothers to get Covid19 Jab?


Dr Juma Kipale attending to expectant mother. Photo by J Nangonzi.

Everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated against the Covid19. Millions have responded and have been vaccinated to avoid contracting the highly contagious disease including pregnant mothers. But some pregnant mothers who were vaccinated claim the jab ended making them sick to the extent of being hospitalized.

Mary Siima, an expectant mother and resident of Mugongo Kyengera in Wakiso district, says when her current pregnancy was three months old, she went to Kitebi health centre for antenatal services. The doctors, according to Siima, ordered her to get vaccinated against Covid19.

“After the vaccination, my condition worsened and I got sick. My arm got swollen for days. It only recovered after I had received treatment. The doctors did not tell me about the expected side effects after the vaccination. They did not even test me to see if I really had the Covid19,” says Siima.

Mary Siima expecting mother.

Siima expected to be given consent papers but she didn’t see them at all. She does know whether that is the procedure or the doctors acted excessively. “I don’t know if that’s how it should be done or not. I later heard that pregnant mothers were not included in the initial clinical trials of Covid19 vaccines. I am worried of what will happen to my unborn baby,” Siima adds.

Like Siima, Angel Kirabo Nakiwala, a resident of Nsangi, still in Wakiso district, is worried over getting a Covid19 jab. “I gave birth a month ago. I am afraid of getting vaccinated. Many of my friends got sick after receiving the Covid19 vaccine. Even my husband became sick after being vaccinated. I don’t know whether a breastfeeding mother is allowed to get vaccinated against Covid19. I am worried of what will happen to me and my baby,” Nakiwala explains.

The worries expressed by Siima and Nakiwala raise a million-dollar question: Is it right for expectant and breastfeeding mothers to get vaccinate against Covid19?

Dr Daniel Kyabayinze a specialist in charge of covid-19 vaccination, says: “WHO recommends vaccination in pregnant mothers since the benefits of vaccination outweigh the potential risks. For example, Pregnant women are at a high risk of exposure to Covid19.”

Dr Kyabayinze further explains that initially when the vaccine was discovered, pregnant women were not included in initial clinical trials of Covid19 vaccines. He, however, adds that the data from animal studies and post-introduction surveillance have not shown harmful effects of Covid19 jab in pregnancy.

“However, pregnant mothers should be provided with information about the risks of Covid19 in pregnancy and likely benefits of vaccination in the local epidemiologic context and current limitations of safety data in pregnant women. This will help them to decide for themselves whether to be vaccinated or not but it would be good for everyone to get vaccinated,” says Dr Kyabayinze.

For the worries about breastfeeding mothers getting Covid19 jab, Dr Kyabayinze elaborates that WHO does not recommend to discontinue breastfeeding because of vaccination. This is because breastfeeding has substantial health benefits to mothers and infants.

Since some mothers have expressed concerned over their pregnancy and Covid19 jab, Emmanuel Ainebyona, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, explains that a pregnant mother can get vaccinated against Covid19 at any trimester.

Ainebyona further explains that mothers make their own decisions to get vaccinated and no one should force them. According to Ainebyona, many mothers have been vaccinated and no one has experienced any complications neither their babies.

“Vaccination does not require a medical examination for Covid19 unless the person has symptoms that indicate that they may be having Covid19,” says Ainebyona.

Not only mothers who have developed some side effects after being administered with Covid19 jab. But Ainebyona says men, women and children have registered mild side effects. This also depends on the strength of one’s immunity.

“Many People get fevers and headache after using medicines and the same applies to Covid19 vaccines but this does not happen forever. No pregnant woman has died from vaccination according to the research in all public hospitals in Uganda,” says Ainebyona.

According to Nehemiah Katusiima, Head of Staff and Doctors at Kawempe Referral Hospital, many mothers have been vaccinated at the hospital but no mother had experienced any complications in childbirth after being vaccinated.