Expectant women who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 are urging their colleagues to disregard the misinformation about the jabs.
The Nation spoke to 15 pregnant women and they said the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the perceived harm, including side effects.
“At first I was sceptical about it because if you visit any vaccination centre you will rarely see expectant mothers on the line waiting for the jab. This is because many people are only concerned about the safety of the baby and not of the pregnant mothers,” a communications expert based in Nairobi said.
But she acknowledged she thought about it for a while.
“For weeks I researched extensively and came across very compelling data on the uptake of vaccines by expectant mothers in the United Kingdom because we received AstraZeneca donations from there.
“To be honest I was surprised to learn that most women who had received the jab said they felt very okay and nothing had happened to them apart from side effects like a sore arm and feeling feverish, which are being experienced by everyone else who has taken the vaccine,” she said.
Ms Khadija Yunis, who is in her early 30s, said she was on her way to get her second dose of Moderna vaccine.
“I did a lot of research and consulted my gynaecologist because much of the concern around is only about the baby.
“At first I was afraid but made a decision to go for Moderna because my friend, who is a doctor, convinced me that all the vaccines are safe,” Ms Yunis said.
“My gynaecologist told me that from the reports they were getting, the antibodies after vaccination are transferred to the baby; it is not harmful and in fact it is more like two people have been immunised at the same time. As an African, I know when I deliver everyone around me will want to hold my baby so I am actually at peace knowing that my baby won’t be at risk of contracting the coronavirus,” she added.
Ms Yunis has had clinic visits and experts assured her that everything is okay.
“My second jab is today. After the first one, apart from the soreness on my arm, I felt nothing else and even went back to work until around 6pm when I got a bit feverish but then it all subsided after 10 minutes,” she said.
Ms June Mbugua, who works in the advertising department at Nation Media Group, says the obituary section she deals with motivated her to get the jab.
“There is a week we received at least one advert a day of expectant mothers who had succumbed to coronavirus based on what the people who placed them told me. It was a wake-up call,” she said.
There is a death that recently hit Ms Mbugua hard.
“I have a colleague whose friend was seven months pregnant. She had Covid-19 and was taken to the hospital where she was told she needed an emergency Caesarean Section (C-Section) to save the baby. She never made it.
That broke my heart because she lives behind a four-year-old boy who will never know her mom,” she said.
According to Dr Collins Tabu, the head of the National Vaccines and Immunization Programme but is now on study leave, it is very safe for expectant women to get the jab.
“We should be vaccinating expectant mothers because the benefits far outweigh the risks, especially if they are undertaking high-risk professions, for example nurses, teachers or security officers,” he said.
Dr Willis Akhwale, Covid-19 vaccine task force chairman, said the there is no policy to guide vaccination of expectant mothers.
“Our job as a task force is deployment of Covid-19 vaccines. So far we have not received any guiding policy on expectant mothers but once we do, we will comply with whatever decision the Kenya National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (KENITAG) will make on the matter,” he said.
But according to Professor Fred Were, who is the chairperson of KENITAG, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has not presented reports or data to his team for them to act on.
“The Health ministry needs to guide the discussions. However, up to now, we have not received any communication whatsoever from MoH,” he said.