Singapore's Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination (EC19V) has recommended the use of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Covid-19 vaccines for four subgroups of the population that were previously restricted.
The groups are:
- Pregnant women
- Breastfeeding women
- Cancer patients on treatment
- Individuals with history of Severe Cutaneous Adverse Reactions (SCAR)
The update comes after the committee’s monitoring and review of local and international vaccination data, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Pregnant or breastfeeding women
Due to limited data during the initial roll-out of the vaccination programme, additional caution was exercised in recommending that pregnant women defer their vaccinations.
Women who are breastfeeding were also advised to suspend doing so for five to seven days after vaccination.
However, since the vaccines have been internally administered to large populations, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, more data has been accrued.
The committee has observed no harm to pregnant women or their babies so far, with the known benefits of the vaccine outweighing the potential risks.
However, it also acknowledged that the amount of data collected on this group is smaller than data on the general population. Therefore, long-term monitoring will still be needed.
Pregnant women should consult their doctors for a more informed decision, the news release added.
Additionally, there is no need to suspend breastfeeding after receiving the vaccine.
Cancer patients on treatment
According to the committee, there is also currently no evidence of safety issues from mRNA Covid-19 vaccines for cancer patients on treatment.
Active treatment is defined as chemotherapy, immunotherapy or radiation therapy that individuals have undergone in the past three months, or are planning to undergo in the next two months.
Although a weakened immune system from such treatments might reduce vaccine efficacy, the vaccine can still offer "good protection" against the virus, the committee added.
Cancer patients should still discuss their vaccine suitability with their specialists, as the extent of immunosuppression varies across treatments.
Individuals with SCAR
Individuals with Severe Cutaneous Adverse Reactions (SCAR) were previously excluded from the vaccination exercise as a precaution.
With the availability of international data, however, the committee has also determined that it is safe for this subgroup to be vaccinated.
Reviewing data for those with severe allergy reactions
Additionally, the committee is currently reviewing safety data on vaccinating persons with a history of anaphylaxis — severe allergic reactions — due to food and other medicines.
It aims to complete the review in the next two weeks, so that guidelines can be developed for such individuals to be safely vaccinated.
Top photo via Ministry of Health/Facebook