- COVID-19 Vaccine Q&A with Dr Anita Raja
With the Covid19 Vaccine being rolled out across the UK it has raised many questions amongst our audience which is understandable.
At MyBump2Baby it is important to us that we provide parents with accurate and evidence based information so parents can make informed decisions about the vaccine.
Today our founder Carla Lett runs a Q&A with Dr Anita Raja.
Dr Anita Raja does a lot of media work around vaccine hesitancy and is part of Team Halo.
Dr Anita Raja answers all your questions on getting the vaccine during pregnancy, fertility baby development, menstrual cycles and breast feeding mums.
Carla: Hello everybody. And welcome to the, My Bump 2 Baby Expert podcast. Today, we are talking to Dr. Anita Raja. Dr. Anita Raja is a Birmingham based GP and she has done a lot of media work around vaccine hesitantcy. With COVID vaccines being rolled out across the UK, understandably it is raising a lot of questions for people that are trying to conceive, people that are pregnant at the moment, and also people that have just had babies. It is really important to us at My Bump 2 Baby that parents get accurate answers to their questions. And today we are really looking forward to speaking to Dr. Anita Raja about this very subject. I hope you enjoy this episode.
[00:00:53] Hi, Anita. How are you?
[00:00:55] Dr Anita: I’m doing really well. And I am hoping that you’re enjoying the sun.
[00:00:59] Carla: Absolutely, absolutely. Although I wish I was out in it a bit more. I tend to be working all the time at the moment, I bet you are busy as well at the moment.
[00:01:09] Dr Anita: Yes, exactly.
[00:01:10] Carla: Anita, basically, since we, since, um, announcing that we’re running this Q&A with you, uh, we’ve had so, so many questions, so I’m going to do my best to get through as many as we can. Um, but, um, can we start by asking what the current guidance is for the vaccine during pregnancy?
[00:01:30] Dr Anita: So the current guidance has been updated quite recently. And now anyone above the age of 23 who’s pregnant, uh, can be offered the vaccine. And it is actually advisable that when they are offered the vaccine, they do make full use of it and get themselves jabbed.
[00:01:51] Carla: Right. Yeah. That makes sense. So, so also what vaccine should pregnant women be actually having?
[00:01:59] Dr Anita: Uh, so this is a very interesting question. It’s a question that I get asked quite a lot. Preferably it should be the Pfizer or Moderna. Um, and I say this because, uh, in the United States they had a study which was, um, uh, of a hundred thousand pregnant women and the vaccines that they tested, uh, where the modern and the Pfizer, and there were no side effects or no problems with it.
[00:02:23] Carla: Right. Okay. And, and should pregnant women be waiting for after the first trimester for the vaccine or should they be getting it in the first trimester?
[00:02:34] Dr Anita: Um, if you ask me the question, then the, the honest answer is they can have it whenever they like, however, If they get unwell, if they get COVID towards the later part of their pregnancy. So the second or third trimester, then they can get quite unwell with it. So it’s always better to sort of have it maybe after 13 weeks, 13 weeks and onwards. And also the first 12 weeks are vital for the baby’s development anyway. So it’s a good time to perhaps have it round the 13 weeks mark.
[00:03:06] Carla: Yep. Okay and a lot of our, um, parents have had the first dose of AstraZeneca. And what they’ve found is then they found they’re pregnant. Should their second dose be anything different or should they be still sticking with the AstraZeneca?
[00:03:24] Dr Anita: Uh, again, a very vital question that you’ve asked a question. We get asked quite a lot in general practice on a daily basis is really, um, the current guidance suggests that if you’ve had the AstraZeneca as the first dose, then the second can be the AstraZeneca and there should be no problem with it.
[00:03:40] However, if you’ve had any serious side effects to the AstraZeneca or an anaphylactic reaction to it, then of course, uh, we can look at offering you another option, which would be the Moderna or the Pfizer.
[00:03:54] Carla: Right. That’s brilliant. And also another topic that gets touched on a lot as well is obviously miscarriage. Um, many mums including myself, has suffered from miscarriage before, early and late in pregnancy. Are women who have suffered from early or late baby loss, um, before, during preg are they, are they suitable for the vaccine?
[00:04:17] Dr Anita: A hundred percent suitable for the vaccine. Uh, there is no evidence to suggest. No data to suggest that the vaccine causes miscarriages or causes any problems with fertility. In fact, if you look at the numbers, um, women who do not get vaccinated and are pregnant and catch COVID are at higher risk of miscarrying or having stillbirths. So really, uh, it is a very good idea to get jabbed.
[00:04:49] Carla: Okay, that’s brilliant. And, and now on to people that are actually just trying to conceive at the moment. Does the vaccine, have any known effects for fertility, for men or women?
[00:05:01] Dr Anita: None at all. None at all. Absolutely not. And it’s all speculative things we read in the media and these are all myths. There’s absolutely no robust data to support any of these claims. Uh, and we’ve seen no such problem whatsoever.
[00:05:20] Carla: Okay. And, and if someone is thinking about going, undergoing IVF treatment, could they still have the vaccine?
[00:05:30] Dr Anita: Yeah. So IVF is not a contraindication, uh, to getting vaccinated. However, uh, as you know, when we get vaccinated, there are a couple of side effects that are expected. For instance, you can have a high temperature, you can have chills, body aches, feel unwell. Feel under the weather and when you’re having IVF, then we have to look out for some effects as well, which could be rather dangerous. So it’s important that we time them in such a way that we don’t mix the side effects. So we need to be clear about whether the side effects are due to the IVF or whether it’s the vaccine. So it’s, it’s, it’s key that we time it appropriately. However, there is no contraindication to take the vaccine. Uh, if you’re undergoing IVF treatment.
[00:06:15] Carla: Thank you. And, um, we’ve seen a little bit in the press, like you mentioned before, obviously you, you also debunk myths. So in regards to the menstrual cycle, um, can the COVID vaccine effect periods and the menstrual cycle?
[00:06:32] Dr Anita: So you see, um, This is, uh, another query that, uh, comes around quite a lot. Um, if you look at the number of women that have been vaccinated, it’s a very large cohort. Now, whether these women would have been vaccinated or not? It may well have been that time of the year, where the cycle had to go haywire. All of us have experienced that. And it’s absolutely normal for your cycle to go up with abnormal in a certain month, at a certain time of the year. There are lots of other factors that control it. For instance, stress is a big factor. Um, so there is no such robust evidence to suggest that it affects your periods. However, if you all having some problems with your periods and it is a persistent problem. And when I say persistent, I mean, at least three cycles in a year, then you, you surely need to speak to your GP about it. And this needs to be investigated.
[00:07:34] Carla: Okay, brilliant. Um, and of course, many mums are nervous about getting the vaccine whilst pregnant, but not so much for themselves, but also mainly I suppose, for the baby. Um, so is there actually any negative impacts on the baby from the vaccine?
[00:07:54] Dr Anita: So far, if you look at the studies that were conducted on animals, we’ve seen no abnormalities in the fetus, in the baby or after the baby was born. So certainly not, if you look at the current data. And, uh, I think what we need to follow is science at the moment. And it is important that we look at evidence-based medicine and we’ve certainly haven’t seen any side effects. And if you look at the vaccine, I mean, what is going to give the baby side effects is it’s going to be the ingredients. It doesn’t contain any such toxic ingredients, which would have a negative, detrimental effect on the baby anyway.
[00:08:35] Carla: Right. Okay. So, so my next question was, is there any long-term effects on the baby? Um, but as you’ve mentioned, if there’s no, no toxins in, in the vaccine, is that, is that a no.?
[00:08:48] Dr Anita: Yes. Yes, certainly.
[00:08:50] Carla: Right. Okay. And in regards to breastfeeding mums, can they get the vaccine?
[00:08:56] Dr Anita: Yes, a hundred percent. I mean, if you are breastfeeding and you get invitation for being jabbed, just go ahead. There’s absolutely no contraindication for a lactating mother, uh, to not get vaccinated.
[00:09:11] Carla: Right. Brilliant. And, um, how soon after giving birth, should mums be getting the vaccine? Should there be a waiting period or could they get it straight away?
[00:09:22] Dr Anita: They can get it straight away. There’s absolutely no waiting period.
[00:09:25] Carla: Right. Okay. And lastly, why do you think people should get the vaccine?
[00:09:31] Dr Anita: I think it’s very important for us to act responsibly. We have to look after our loved ones, our family members, uh, the elderly members of our family. If we feel we’re young and we’re not going to be affected by COVID, that is a very valid thought, but it is important that we understand that not everyone around us is that robust and healthy. There are many vulnerable people around us, and the only way we can get out of lockdown, the only way we can win this war against this virus is by getting vaccinated so that the transmission rates are low and all of us are desperate at the moment. All of us want a normal life, the life we had pre COVID. And unfortunately there is no plan B the only plan forward and the only successful plan is getting jabbed.
[00:10:23] Carla: So, um, lastly, would you mind just telling people where they can find you to find more information that you share? Because it is very useful.
[00:10:33] Dr Anita: Um, you can find me on Instagram. Um, my, uh, Instagram handle is @globetrottingpassports you can find me on Twitter it’s Dr. Anita Raja, and I’ve done a couple of videos for BBC Asian network. I worked for team halo, um, and ask doc one. All I do in my spare time is make these videos to spread awareness around the vaccine and to fight health inequalities within the healthcare system. And I’m hoping that you find today’s session very useful.
[00:11:07] Carla: I’m sure everyone will. So thank you so much, Dr. Anita for coming on. Thank you.
[00:11:13] Dr Anita: You’re more than welcome. Thank you. It was a pleasure.
[00:11:16] Carla: Thank you for joining us on today’s Q&A on the COVID 19 vaccine. Don’t forget to subscribe so that you don’t miss any other videos that may be of interest to you.