Dr Melody Ennis, Director of Family Health Service at the Ministry of Health and Wellness is confident that the AstraZeneca vaccine will be able to immunize and protect Jamaicans against the effects of the COVID-19.
According to Ennis, while medicines and vaccines do not go through clinical testing on pregnant women, the risk and benefits, make the Strategic Advisory Group advising that pregnant women with comorbidity can take the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“It is known that persons who are pregnant and contract COVID they fear worse than their counterparts and they tend to have premature deliveries, bearing that in mind and looking at the composition of the vaccine we are now weighing the benefits of taking the vaccine with the risk of a detrimental pregnancy and the recommendation is that for persons who are exposed or comorbid conditions in these persons, the pregnant persons, the vaccine can be given.”
Jamaicans have been expressing concerns on social media about the AstraZeneca vaccine, which according to reports is not able to fight the new United Kingdom (UK) and South African strains of the pandemic.
She said the interim guidelines said that individuals with HIV, compromised health such as cancer can also take the vaccine. She said for those with cancer, the vaccine might not be fully effective against COVID-19, but will provide “a source of safety”.
“The interim guidelines recognise that these persons might not mount the response to the full hundred as persons without these conditions but the response that is mounted will still provide a source of safety for these persons and as such it is also recommended that they be given the vaccine.”
Ennis, however, said while the interim guidelines by WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group show the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine is reduced significantly in the South African strain, it is only “less effective” in the strain from the UK.