Exemptions repealed for breastfeeding women

General exemptions for pregnant and breastfeeding women have been removed, Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony said on Thursday.

This is as a result of what he said was “overwhelming evidence” showing the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines for this sub-population.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women were previously exempted from taking any of the vaccines.

Minister Anthony explained that there have been cases where emergency, particularly Caesarean sections had to be done because of severe complications due to COVID-19 infection.

“This can be avoided…if women take the vaccine during the pregnancy so that if they get infected with COVID they’ll have a milder form of the disease,” Anthony explained.

However, the Minister explained that in specific situations, these exemptions can still be granted. “If there is any doubt, the physician who is issuing an exemption needs to concur with the CMO and once the two of them are in concurrence, then an exemption letter will be issued.

On August 11, Chief Medical Officer Dr Narine Singh drafted a memorandum that listed particular instances where persons can be exempted from vaccination. In this memo, the CMO stated that “mothers who do not wish to be vaccinated for the duration of their pregnancy will be exempted”. This was also applicable to breastfeeding mothers as well.