22 Jul 2021

Fiji women assured they can get Covid-19 vaccine while breast-feeding

10:06 pm on 22 July 2021

Pregnant women in Fiji can get the Covid-19 vaccine while breast-feeding their babies, health authorities have assured.

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Photo: 123rf.com

This comes as the government begins administering the Moderna vaccine to pregnant women in the country.

More than 150,000 doses of the vaccine arrived in Fiji last weekend through the support of the US government and the COVAX Facility.

The Health Ministry said many of these women are hesitant to get vaccinated after fears of blood clots and bleeding linked to vaccines.

There's also the misinformation on social media that's misleading people, the ministry said.

Two mothers were among 21 people confirmed dead from Covid-19 this week.

Medical teams conducted emergency caesarean operations to save the pregnant women's new-borns.

During a virtual discussion on Fiji, Professor Homer from the Burnet Institute in Melbourne said mothers could continue to breastfeed while being Covid-19 positive.

She said Covid-19 transmission between mother and baby was done by touching and airborne, and there was no evidence to suggest it occurred through pregnancy.

Professor Homer also said it was more beneficial for mother and child to remain together despite any infection in the mother because separating them would do more harm to the baby's health.

AUSMAT team lead urges vigilance against virus

Meanwhile, head of the New Zealand and Australian medical assistance team in Fiji said reports of people presenting themselves late to hospitals were a concern.

Anaesthetist Dr Brian Spain echoed sentiments shared earlier by Fiji's Health Ministry that people with severe diseases are dying at home or on their way to the hospital.

The government said more Fijians are becoming hesitant to present themselves to hospitals due to fears of being infected with Covid-19.

Health Secretary Dr James Fong said anyone with Covid-like symptoms must be presumed to have the virus until proven otherwise.


.. Photo: Supplied

There are about 20 medical specialists from New Zealand and Australia helping their Fijian colleagues in Suva.

Dr Spain said it was 'hard to know exactly when the peak of Covid-19 cases' will be reached.

He said it was important that people vaccinate and practice covid-safe protocols.

"And we know that usually with the Covid disease, people get sick gradually over a week or so," Dr Spain said.

"And then they get critical. So the important thing is if people start to feel unwell, they contact their health authorities, and they get the help because I think sadly some of the people who have died have come into the hospital too late.

"And if they had accessed health care quickly, they may have been able to be saved."

Dr Spain said this was one of the main reasons it was important to make sure that the ambulance service was strong, so they can go and pick people up.

He advised people to practice Covid-19 safety rules and protocols by staying home and only going out when necessary, washing hands and wearing a mask.

"And that will minimise the number of people who get sick. We know of a proportion of the people who get sick, they will get severely ill. And importantly, if they've been vaccinated, you can still get Covid, but you're much less likely to get sick enough to go to the hospital. So that's why even one dose of vaccine is so important, and two doses is even better."

Meanwhile, over 100 Fijians have been issued with public health infringement notices by police over the last two days.

Police said of the 102 notices issued, 71 people were booked for failing to wear a mask.

Police said others had failed to wear a mask in public, breached curfew and drivers' violation of the health ministry's Covid-19 capacity guidelines.

Fiji now has over 15,000 positive people in isolation.

Police on patrol as they enforce face mask protocols in Fiji's capital Suva, amid a worsening outbreak of the Delta variant of Covid-19 in the Pacific nation.

Police on patrol as they enforce face mask protocols in Fiji's capital Suva, amid a worsening outbreak of the Delta variant of Covid-19 in the Pacific nation. Photo: AFP or licensors