BY REJOICE NCUBE
PREGNANT and lactating women have expressed concern over their exclusion in COVID-19 vaccination programmes, which they say expose them to the virus.
Their concerns come after health experts in the country warned that pregnant and lactating women could take the COVID-19 jab.
The affected women told NewsDay that they were being turned away at vaccination centres in Bulawayo.
“When I first went to Mpilo Hospital to get vaccinated, they told me to return home as they were not vaccinating breastfeeding women. However, the fear now is that I am not sure whether breastfeeding will make me safe from contracting the virus,” Silibaziso Ncube said.
A pregnant Wenzile Ndlovu said the nurses told her to return home without getting the jab when they realised that she was pregnant.
“They did not give me any explanation, but only said pregnant women were not being vaccinated. Surely being pregnant does not make me immune to the virus,” she lamented.
Bulawayo City Council health services director Edwin Sibanda said the reasons for not administering the vaccines on pregnant and lactating women were that there were not enough tests that were done to prove whether the jabs were safe for them.
“We are not willing to experiment on women, especially on people that are pregnant or breastfeeding. Therefore, we cannot exactly prove COVID-19 vaccine effects on them because usually when new medicines are introduced, they are first of all tried on men,” he said.
“Therefore, we are taking precautions by not allowing them to get vaccinated because we do not know the effects that these vaccines might have on them and their babies.
“However, maybe after four to five years, we will have a clear answer to the effects that the vaccines have on pregnant and breastfeeding women.”
However, the World Health Organisation has said pregnant women may receive COVID-19 vaccines as the benefits of the jabs outweighed the potential risks.