BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers will be able to get their COVID-19 jabs from August 16, the health ministry announced on Friday.

In a press statement, the ministry said the Moderna vaccine will be offered to pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, who are at a higher risk of developing severe symptoms from COVID-19.

“The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is the preferred vaccine for pregnant women because of a more extensive experience of their use in pregnancy.

“Early data from ongoing studies did not identify any adverse outcomes for pregnant women who were vaccinated or for their babies,” the statement read.

The ministry urged pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their babies as the number of community COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

“Pregnant women are more likely to be seriously unwell compared to non-pregnant women and have a higher risk of their baby being born prematurely if they develop COVID-19,” it added.

Brunei has reported 259 coronavirus cases since the second wave of infections started a week ago.

During the COVID-19 press briefing, Health Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohammad Isham Hj Jaafar said pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers must register at their nearest public maternal and child health clinic before getting the jab.

Once they have registered, the maternal and child health clinics will decide their vaccine appointment date.

Appointment dates will be sent via SMS and will be updated on the BruHealth mobile app.

For Brunei-Muara and Temburong districts, vaccinations will take place at the National Indoor Stadium.

Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers can also get inoculated at Belait’s Suri Seri Begawan Hospital and Pengiran Muda Mahkota Pengiran Muda Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah Hospital in Tutong.

More vaccines expected to arrive soon

The minister said discussions are being held with pharmaceutical manufacturers to deliver the next batch of COVID-19 vaccines.

InshaAllah if the situation allows, maybe we will get more vaccines next week,” he said in response to a question on whether the current supply of vaccines can meet the increased demand.

The Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine is currently administered to members of the public as the remaining stock of Moderna jabs will be offered to pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and those who are awaiting their second dose.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said the ministry will start ramping up vaccination to 10,000 jabs a day once more vaccine doses arrive.

The ministry has ordered 300,000 Pfizer vaccines that are expected to arrive in the final quarter of 2021.

About 34.2 percent of the population, or 155,001 people, have received at least one vaccine shot, according to latest figures from the health ministry.

A total of 46,440 people, accounting for 10.2 percent of Brunei residents, have completed the two-dose regimen.