With the extreme risk of coronavirus infection in all populations, including pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, the question of whether or not to vaccinate against covid if a woman is breastfeeding is of great concern to mothers and those who will soon become mothers. Until recently, breastfeeding was a contraindication to vaccination.
However, the Ministry of Health has now removed this point from the list of factors in which it is prohibited to be vaccinated against coronavirus. Now, according to the vaccine instructions, it is up to the breastfeeding woman to decide whether or not to vaccinate against coronavirus during breastfeeding. She is asked to do a self-evaluation of the benefits and risks of the vaccine before she decides.
COVID-19 vaccination and breastfeeding
Observations during the incomplete 2 years of the coronavirus pandemic cannot be called long. Therefore, until recently, coronavirus vaccination during breastfeeding was not recommended for breastfeeding mothers. Moreover, breastfeeding a newborn was considered a medical exemption to vaccination. Vaccination recommendations for breastfeeding mothers were updated by the WHO (World Health Organization) in July 2021. Experts concluded that there was no evidence of a greater risk of coronavirus to breastfeeding mothers than to other populations. In addition, the WHO emphasized the safety of breastfeeding vaccination for mothers and babies. Based on these facts, the Russian Ministry of Health changed its recommendations for the use of Sputnik V for vaccination of pregnant and breastfeeding women, noting that it is not clear whether the active ingredients of the vaccine could get into breast milk.
Factors in the course of coronavirus infection in breastfeeding women
All populations are susceptible to covid infection, including women who are preparing to become mothers and those who are breastfeeding their infants. The factor of breastfeeding has no effect on increasing or decreasing the risk of infection or the severity of the disease. The situation is complicated by the fact that a sick woman has to care for her infant. WHO experts have not found evidence that a mother can infect her baby with covid through breast milk.
However, she would have to take extra precautions during feeding to make sure that infection would not occur through airborne or direct tactile contact with the newborn. If the disease is severe or the woman has to be separated from her baby, she may have to express her milk in order not to stop this important breastfeeding.
Vaccine Features: Companion V
Existing and approved products that can be vaccinated with in Russia today are Sputnik V, EpiVacCorona and CoviVac. Despite their common purpose, they all have different active ingredients and differently form an immune response in the human body. The best known is Sputnik V, which is considered acceptable for coronavirus vaccination during breastfeeding. The drug is a vector combination vaccine, which includes two doses.
Their composition contains adenovirus vectors, which are unable to reproduce and deliver the coronavirus S-protein gene into the body. The consequence of vaccination is the production of this protein by the body. The human immune system in turn forms its response to it in the form of antibodies to the coronavirus S-protein (specifically to its receptor-binding domain), considered neutralizing or those that prevent infection.
Nuances of EpiVacCorona and CoviVac
The other two drugs are newer and different from the popular “Companion V” because:
- “EpiVacCorona is a peptide vaccine that differs from Sputnik V in that it does not contain a biological agent. The drug includes short artificially synthesized fragments of peptides – viral proteins. The immune system is trained through them, which allows it to further recognize and neutralize the virus.
- “CoviVac” is a so-called whole-virion vaccine. It contains SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which has undergone special treatment so that all its infectious properties are destroyed, while retaining the ability to cause an immune response. As a result, a complex immune response is formed not only to the S-protein or its components, but to all existing coronavirus proteins.
Contraindications to vaccination for breastfeeding women
If a woman decides to be vaccinated against coronavirus while breastfeeding, she can do so on general grounds. This means that a medical exemption can be considered a contraindication for its implementation, which exist for other categories of citizens who have made such a decision.
This conclusion can be drawn from the fact that the Ministry of Health has excluded breastfeeding itself from the list of things that can prevent vaccination. Nevertheless, before going for vaccination, a woman who breastfeeds her baby should inform her family doctor in order to rule out diseases and reactions that are considered contraindications for all other groups.
When vaccination is not recommended
The list of contraindications for vaccination against COVID-19 is constantly adjusted by the Ministry of Health. Until recently, vaccination while breastfeeding was considered inadmissible. By mid-December of this year, the list of reasons that serve as a barrier to vaccination is expected to be updated. At this time, immunologists consider the main situational contraindications to COVID-19 vaccination, including for breastfeeding mothers, to be any aggravated chronic disease.
This may be decompensation of diabetes mellitus or autoimmune processes in this stage. You should not be vaccinated if you have:
- ACUTE RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS;
- sore throat;
- Acute bronchitis.
After recovery, the vaccine may be given two weeks later. Only a history of hypersensitivity to components of previously administered vaccines or a severe allergic reaction to them can serve as a permanent medical exemption.