by Bria King
Being fully vaccinated against COVID will not prevent anyone from donating blood. Nor should a COVID19 jab affect a man’s virility or a woman’s ability to become pregnant.
This is according to infectious disease specialist, Dr Jerrol Thompson, as he responded to questions posed by SEARCHLIGHT this week in relation to some concerns that have been expressed about the jab.
“They can absolutely give blood…but by giving blood, it does not confer immunity to the person who is receiving the blood. It only stays with the person giving the blood,” Thompson said, when asked if being vaccinated will rule out an individual from giving blood.
“Vaccination doesn’t make the person toxic…and that’s why if you look into vaccination, 70 per cent of the world, 80 per cent of the world, if that were the case, then vaccination would become extinct.”
Some Vincentians have reported being told that they would not be able to donate blood if they were vaccinated against COVID19, while others have said they were told there was a deferral period of one month between the time they got the vaccine and when they could donate.
While deferral periods are not uncommon, information varies from country to country on the protocol for donating blood after giving a vaccine.
According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, individuals who received a non-replicating, inactivated or mRNA-based COVID19 vaccine can donate blood without a waiting period, but individuals who received a live-attenuated viral COVID19 vaccine are encouraged to refrain from donating blood for a short waiting period (14 days) after receiving the vaccine.
Thompson told SEARCHLIGHT that persons have continued to give blood even after vaccination as it does not have an effect whatsoever on the process.
He added that if there is an emergency and someone needs to donate blood, they should be able to do so.
“The vaccine itself only lasts about two hours in the individual and during that time, it’s able to stimulate immune response but after a couple of hours, the vaccine ingredients and contents are actually degraded and so forth. So it isn’t that the vaccine stays in your system for months and years and so forth, but what it creates, stimulates the immune system to create antibodies…” the infectious disease specialist told SEARCHLIGHT, while noting that the human body carries hundreds of different types of antibodies.
There has been an ongoing debate world-wide as to whether taking a COVID19 vaccine would affect the fertility or sex drive for persons who opt to be inoculated.
SVG’s infectious disease specialist said this has been an issue that has been deterring some nurses and men from taking the vaccine locally.
But he added that there has been no evidence to prove there is reduced virility as a result of someone receiving the jab.
“Certain persons have blown it up and social media has been packed with it and as a result, that’s what is driving a lot of the nurses to not take the vaccine,” Thompson said.
While proof appears to be non-existent in relation to these matters and the COVID19 vaccines, Thompson noted that it has been found that the actual virus can cause a reduced sperm count in men.
When it comes to breast feeding, Thompson is positive that there is no prohibition or problems.
“I’m being quite firm on this…in all the literature, there is no problem at all with breast feeding. Let me also say that most babies, when they are born, there is a transfer of their mother’s antibodies over to the baby, so if the mother is immune to something, the baby will be immune for six plus months,” he said.
Many women have expressed concern over whether they should be inoculated against COVID19 if they are pregnant.
Countries across the globe have been administering vaccines to pregnant women and some studies show that pregnant women experience few side effects after being vaccinated.
The NHS in the United Kingdom recommends that pregnant women who have not yet had a COVID19 vaccine, take the Pfizer/BioNTech or Morderna vaccine.
“This is because these vaccines have been more widely used during pregnancy in other countries and no safety concerns have been identified,” the NHS website said.
If a pregnant woman has already taken a dose of Oxford AstraZeneca, with no serious side effects, it is recommended that they take their second dose.
The NHS highlights that no COVID19 vaccine will give the mother or baby the virus.
In the case of pregnant women, Thompson recommends that they consult with their OBGYN on what they consider to be the best option.
“The big reason is that most birth control pills and pregnancy are associated with clots…smokers are associated with clots. People on birth control pills definitely increase the incidence of clots so we often tell women…to consult with their OBGYN physician and to seek that advice, as opposed to saying yes go ahead, or no don’t go ahead,” he said.
The infectious disease specialist noted however that the COVID19 virus – not the vaccine – has been known to cause spontaneous abortion or premature labour in pregnant women who have contracted the virus.
He added that if a pregnant woman finds herself in a high-risk work environment where she is frequently exposed to the virus, it may be best to consider taking the vaccine.
The Ministry of Health’s vaccination drive is ongoing, with several options of vaccines being available to the public: AstraZeneca, Sputnik V and Pfizer BioNTech.
As of Wednesday August 18, 26,449 vaccines have been administered locally. Of that figure, 16,225 are first doses and 10,224 are second doses.