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BioNTech jabs cleared for expectant, nursing mums

2021-04-22 HKT 22:23
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  • Expert advisers say the latest data shows that the BioNTech vaccine is suitable for pregnant women and nursing mothers. Photo: RTHK
    Expert advisers say the latest data shows that the BioNTech vaccine is suitable for pregnant women and nursing mothers. Photo: RTHK
Experts advising the government on Hong Kong's Covid vaccination programme are now recommending pregnant women and nursing mothers to get the BioNTech jab.

Previously, they had only advised expectant or nursing mums in high risk groups, such as healthcare workers, to get inoculated.

But they updated their advice on Thursday after reviewing the latest data, which showed that more than 90,000 pregnant women worldwide have been safely given the vaccine.

Infectious disease expert David Hui from Chinese University said there’s even evidence that mums pass on a measure of protection to their babies.

“Researchers have found good antibody level in the cord blood and the breast milk, so that would confer protection of the baby,” he said.

The updated advice came after Hong Kong recorded two cases of miscarriage after women received BioNTech jabs, but officials do not believe that the vaccine is to blame.

Professor Hui said mothers who are concerned about the vaccine’s possible impact on fetal development can elect to receive the jab twelve weeks into their pregnancy.

As for the Sinovac jab, the expert said while mainland authorities have recently endorsed the use of inactivated vaccines on pregnant women, the drug-maker must first ask the government to change its position before the expert committee vets the suggestion.

Separately, the advisers are also proposing shortening the quarantine period for fully-inoculated people – if they are identified as close contacts of confirmed Covid-19 patients in future.

People are considered fully inoculated if they have received both jabs for at least two weeks.

The experts said their quarantine period could be shortened from 14 to seven days, if the testing regimen is beefed up.

“Two weeks after the second dose, they have enough antibodies. We would also test them more than once, on day one [of quarantine], and perhaps day three and day six. We may even supplement with antibody test. We are not just relying on the vaccination record,” Hui said.

Experts said it would be up to health authorities to decide when such measure would be adopted, but they added that further studies are needed.