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Pregnant women report delays for Pfizer vaccination in Newcastle

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Pregnant women report delays for Pfizer vaccination in Newcastle because of the difficulty of booking vaccination appointments. For some, appointments are only available long after they are due to give birth or are located too far for travel to be safe, despite pregnant people being listed as priority individuals by federal government for Pfizer vaccines.

RANZCOG and ATAGI recommend that pregnant women are routinely offered Pfizer mRNA vaccine at any stage of pregnancy. This is because the risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 is significantly higher for pregnant women and their unborn baby.

Global surveillance data from large numbers of pregnant women have not identified any significant safety concerns with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines given at any stage of pregnancy. Furthermore, there is also evidence of antibody in cord blood and breastmilk, which may offer protection to infants through passive immunity.

Pregnant women are encouraged to discuss the decision in relation to timing of vaccination with their health professional. Women who are trying to become pregnant do not need to delay vaccination or avoid becoming pregnant after vaccination.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is not recommended for pregnant residents, so a growing concern is felt regarding availability of Pfizer vaccines.

A woman 24-weeks pregnant remains in intensive care with COVID in Newcastle. ABC News reports she had tried and failed to get a vaccine.

It led two of the nation’s leading medical experts in obstetrics to call for faster access to the vaccine for pregnant women. Booking operators at the Belmont hub were issued a directive to prioritise pregnant women. The issue was also acknowledged at the 11:00am COVID update by deputy chief health officer Marianne Gale.

Gale states, “Clearly we understand that some people who are pregnant may have struggled to get access to Pfizer vaccine,” she said. I do encourage you to talk to your GP or talk to your obstetrician for assistance in accessing Pfizer. But certainly, as vaccine supplies become more available, we would really like to see pregnant women getting access to that and I know in a number of ante-natal settings across the state efforts to increase access for pregnant women to Pfizer are actively underway.”

Some pregnant women in Newcastle tried to book a vaccination upon being eligible in late July, but found pregnant women were being excluded from the eligibility checker. Upon showing up to the vaccination, some have said that they were denied the jab and were told to “book appointments online.”

Federal Newcastle Labor MP Sharon Claydon said she had been contacted by several pregnant women in recent days who were unable to secure a timely vaccine.

In parliament yesterday she raised the case of Rachel, who is 24 weeks pregnant with a booking for November 2 and on the waitlist with five local GPs.

In response, Health Minster Greg Hunt said there were 50 GP practices that have had early access to Pfizer in the region. “We continue to encourage all practices to provide priority to pregnant women,” he said.

Ms. Claydon said Mr. Hunt later offered to open up four spots at the mass vaccination hub today for pregnant women who had contacted her office.

“You shouldn’t have to have your case raised in the Australian Parliament in order to secure access to a vaccine,” Ms. Claydon said. “There’s a world of difference between declaring that the Pfizer should be available to someone and the lived experience of women on the ground. “We really need to look at the systemic issues, it should be very easy for any pregnant woman to get vaccinated.”

 

Original story found on the ABC Newcastle and The Australian Government Department of Health websites. Note: Content has been edited for style and length.

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