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COVID-19 Vaccination and Breastfeeding

The national COVID-19 Vaccination Programme was rolled out in December 2020 and over 1.7 million individuals have been fully vaccinated in Singapore till date. Currently, both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are authorised for use in Singapore. The Ministry of Health now recommends for both pregnant and breastfeeding women to receive the vaccine as the risks of COVID-19 infection outweigh the potential risks of vaccination. The new guidelines issued on 31st May 2021 also states that breastfeeding mothers can continue to breastfeed immediately after receiving vaccination1. There is no need to suspend breastfeeding for 5 to 7 days.

COVID-19 vaccination and breastfeeding:

International organisations such as the World Health Organization2, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine3, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)4 and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG)5 recommend breastfeeding women who receive the COVID-19 vaccine to continue breastfeeding post vaccination because the mRNA vaccine is unlikely to cause harm.

With large populations, including breastfeeding women, being vaccinated globally, there is now evidence to support this recommendation. It has been shown that breastfeeding women produce high levels of specific anti-virus antibodies in response to the vaccine. These protective antibodies can be detected in breast milk as early as five to seven days after vaccination. In addition to being protected themselves, breastfeeding mothers who get vaccinated have an added advantage of providing passive immunisation for their newborns as the transfer of antibodies to their babies via breastfeeding has been shown to be efficient.6

The KK Human Milk Bank* supports this recommendation and encourages mothers to continue breastfeeding post vaccination. However, if a mother decides to temporarily stop breastfeeding, she can use previously stored expressed milk to feed her baby during the 5 to 7 days post vaccination. During the period when breastfeeding is interrupted, it is important for her to express her milk regularly to maintain her milk supply. For advice on maintaining lactation and milk expression, please contact the KKH Lactation Service at 6 CALL KKH (62255554).

Women who choose to defer breastfeeding, and do not have excess breast milk during the post-vaccination period, may contact the KK Human Milk Bank for pasteurised donor human milk (PDHM) for their infants, if the infant is less than a year old.

The contact information for the KK Human Milk Bank is as follows:

Phone: 6394 1986
Email: milkbank@kkh.com.sg

Or visit KK Human Milk Bank located at:

KK Women’s And Children’s Hospital
100 Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 229899
Level 2, Women’s Tower

(Please make an appointment with the KK Human Milk Bank via phone or email before visiting)

Operation hours:

Monday to Friday (except public holidays)
8.30am to 5.00pm (Lunch hour: 1.00pm to 2.00pm)

*The KK Human Milk Bank is supported by Temasek Foundation


Please click on this link to find out more about the use of PDHM.

           

References:

  1. Ministry of Health, Singapore, Expert Committee on Covid-19 vaccination expands medical eligibility for MRNA vaccines.
    https://www.moh.gov.sg/news-highlights/details/expert-committee-on-covid-19-vaccination-expands-medical-eligibility-for-mrna-vaccines

  2. World Health organization, The Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine: What you need to know.
    https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/who-can-take-the-pfizer-biontech-covid-19--vaccine
     
  3. Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine statement for Covid-19 vaccination in lactation.
    https://www.bfmed.org/abm-statement-considerations-for-covid-19-vaccination-in-lactation

  4. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Covid-19 vaccines while pregnant or breastfeeding.
    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/pregnancy.html
     
  5. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Covid-19 vaccines, pregnancy and breastfeeding.
    https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/coronavirus-covid-19-pregnancy-and-womens-health/covid-19-vaccines-and-pregnancy/covid-19-vaccines-pregnancy-and-breastfeeding/
  1. SARS-CoV-2-Specific Antibodies in Breast Milk After COVID-19 Vaccination of Breastfeeding Women. Perl SH, Uzan-Yulzari A, Klainer H, et al. JAMA. 2021;325(19):2013-2014.