MOH Urges Pregnant Women To Get Vaccinated As Maternal Deaths By COVID-19 Rise

Dr Noor Hisham reported there were 70 COVID-19 deaths among pregnant women this year, compared to none at all in 2020.

Cover image via Kosmo! & Sam Fong/The Edge

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The Ministry Of Health (MOH) has urged pregnant women in Malaysia to get vaccinated for COVID-19 as maternal deaths related to the virus see a rise

The ministry reported 70 deaths involving pregnant women due to COVID-19-related complications this year as of 9 August, compared to no maternal deaths reported in 2020.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah wrote in his daily COVID-19 statement that the average number of COVID-19 cases among pregnant women was about two cases per month from January to May.

However, there was a sharp increase in June with 17 deaths.

"Data showed two cases out of that total had received the first dose of the vaccine, while the remaining 15 deaths were unvaccinated," he said, adding that 47% of the deaths had comorbidities.

Meanwhile, there was a total of 3,396 COVID-19 cases reported among pregnant women in Malaysia from March 2020 to June 2021.

There was a surge in average number of cases in May and June with 850 and 899 cases, respectively.

Dr Noor Hisham added that pregnant mothers are among the high-risk groups prone to developing a severe infection from COVID-19

So, preventive measures are essential.

"The MOH urges all pregnant mothers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to reduce the risk of complications should they become infected," he advised.

"Husbands should give support for their spouses to ensure they get their vaccines. The vaccinations should be completed before entering the third trimester."

He also encouraged pregnant mothers to contact their nearest health clinic to expedite their vaccination.

He estimates that, as of 8 August, only 40% of pregnant mothers in the country have signed up for COVID-19 vaccination.

Of those registered, 83,251 (57%) have received at least one dose, while 20% have received both doses.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Kosmo!

For the record, all three brands of vaccine currently in use in Malaysia — Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Sinovac — are suitable for pregnant and breastfeeding women

 MOH guidelines also recommend that pregnant women receive the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccines between 14 and 33 weeks of gestation.

The typical duration of pregnancy is around 40 weeks.

"Out of an abundance of caution, avoiding vaccination during the critical period of organogenesis (development of internal organs) in the first trimester is sensible. And the principle of vaccination is to confer protection before the vulnerable late second and third trimester," it stated.

"The second dose can be administered beyond 33 weeks, based on the specific vaccine's schedule."

Remember to limit your movement and keep practising physical distancing. Watch the latest update on the COVID-19 situation:

The issue of vaccination among pregnant women came to public attention after Malaysian singer Siti Sarah passed away due to COVID-19 as she was eight months pregnant:

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