There is currently no evidence to suggest that the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Covid-19 vaccines may cause harm to pregnant women or their babies, the Ministry of Health said. ― Pexels pic via TODAY

SINGAPORE, June 1 — Pregnant women will be able to register and book a vaccination appointment from Friday (June 4) onwards if they are part of the population group eligible for vaccination, the government’s Covid-19 task force said yesterday.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) also announced that cancer patients on active treatment and persons with certain drug reactions may receive vaccinations. 

MoH said in its statement that it is safe, too, for women who are breastfeeding to be vaccinated, and there is no need to suspend breastfeeding to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Covid-19 vaccines, which are the two vaccines approved for use here. 

These four groups of people may register to get their shots when their turn comes as part of the progressive roll-out of the national vaccination programme.

MoH said that these revisions were made after more people have been vaccinated both globally and locally.

Its expert committee on Covid-19 vaccination has been monitoring developments around the world closely before it revised the vaccination guidelines.

“These have provided more evidence on the efficacy and safety of vaccine use especially in relation to specific sub-groups where clinical trial data had not been as substantive,” it said. 

For pregnant women, the committee reviewed real-world clinical data relating to pregnant women in countries with extensive Covid-19 transmission. 

“There is currently no evidence to suggest that the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Covid-19 vaccines may cause harm to pregnant women or their babies,” MoH said. 

However, the ministry added that the expert committee “recognises that the amount of data collected on this population segment is still much smaller compared to data on the general population”. 

“As such, pregnant women should discuss the risks and benefits with their doctors to make an informed decision on the vaccination.” 

Cancer patients on active treatment

For cancer patients receiving active treatment, MOH said that they can be vaccinated, but should do so in a hospital setting, after assessments by their treating specialists on whether they are suitable to receive the vaccine.

Active treatment is defined as chemotherapy, immunotherapy or radiation therapy that individuals have undergone in the past three months or have planned to undergo in the next two months.

There is now “no evidence of any safety signals or increased rates of adverse events from messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) technology-based Covid-19 vaccines for this group”, MoH said.  

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are classified as mRNA-based vaccines because they use mRNA technology to mimic the surface of the coronavirus and teach the human body to build a protein component of the virus, thereby enabling the immune system to recognise and neutralise it.

MoH said that it is finalising the guidelines on vaccination for cancer patients on treatment and will provide more updates when ready. 

People with certain drug allergies

For persons with severe cutaneous adverse reactions who were previously advised not to take the approved Covid-19 vaccines, they are now deemed safe to do so.

People with severe cutaneous adverse reactions may have adverse drug reactions involving their skin and other areas such as the eyes, ears and lips. 

These reactions may stem from conditions such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis, drug rash with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms, and drug-induced hypersensitivity syndrome.

“They may proceed with their vaccination at our vaccination centres if they are part of a population group eligible for vaccination,” MOH said. 

People with a history of anaphylaxis

MoH’s expert committee is still reviewing the safety data on persons with a history of anaphylaxis so that more may be safely vaccinated. 

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction and happens when someone experiences two or more of the following conditions: Hives or swelling in the face, eyelids, lips or throat, difficulty breathing and dizziness.

The committee will set out guidelines allowing some people who have had previous history of anaphylaxis to be vaccinated using mRNA vaccines safely and it intends to complete this review in the next two weeks. 

“We will continue to review the data on other types of vaccines and explore bringing in safe and efficacious vaccines that are suitable for individuals not recommended to receive the mRNA-based vaccines,” MoH said. ― TODAY