Women who seek vaccination against Covid-19 could experience a longer than usual period, vaccinologist Ombeva Malande has warned urging health workers to clearly inform their female clients when they turn up for the jab so they can know what to expect.
Dr Malande, who is also a technical advisor on Covid-19 vaccination at the Ministry of Health (MOH) was speaking to medics on Sunday. He noted that away from the common post-jab effects like headaches and fevers, women are now reporting spotting in between periods, yet others are experiencing longer periods.
Like the expert, a dossier recently released by GAVI, the Vaccines Alliance that is spearheading equitable supply of vaccines across the world shows this as a possibility, even though they said that there was no conclusive evidence to link the vaccine to the menstrual cycle.
“The HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine and the flu vaccine have been reported to affect menstrual cycles temporarily, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Covid-19 vaccines do so briefly either”, read the dossier published on the GAVI website in part.
“Immune cells are at work in creating and breaking down the lining of the uterus that happens during menstruation. Vaccines produce inflammatory molecules called cytokines and interferon’s that stimulate immune cells, including potentially in the uterus. This might cause the lining to shed sooner or more intensively than usual, causing changes to the menstrual cycle”.
However, Malande says the same symptom is also seen among those who have recovered from the viral respiratory disease. Dispelling skepticism in the population including among health workers about the jab, he said, all reports of adverse reactions so far to the ministry have been mild, although he notes that sections of the population are now ignorantly concerned about the move to have different brands of vaccines in the country.
Starting September, in addition to the AstraZeneca vaccines that majority of the population have taken, the country will receive 9 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and later 18 million doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccines. Already, the country has received donations from the Chinese government of 300,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccines.
This according to Malande shouldn’t get Ugandans concerned but rather should be able to access a vaccine with the feared third wave just around the corner.
In terms of figures, a total of 387,135 Ugandans were fully vaccinated by Friday. The country has set to vaccinate at least 22 million people aged 18 and above to be on the safe side.
Dr Alfred Driwale who heads immunization at MOH says they are seeing increasingly younger people accessing vaccines than the elderly who they are targeting. He says health workers at vaccination sites need to be keen not to give jabs to groups that don’t badly need them.
They need 10 million doses to vaccinate the high priority group that includes the elderly, health workers, teachers, security operatives and individuals that live with other health conditions that compromise their immunity.