Tonga to use Pfizer vaccines for pregnant women and youth

Tonga has confirmed that Pfizer vaccine doses sent from New Zealand will be used for the youth aged 12 to 17 years and pregnant women.

The Ministry of Health CEO Dr Siale 'Akau'ola told local media that if there are pregnant mothers who wished to be vaccinated with AstraZeneca vaccines now, they won't be turned away.

Tonga's vulnerability to impacts of COVID-19 infection in terms of non-communicable disease risk factors remains high.

Dr 'Akau'ola said that combining these two risks, make the risk for an unvaccinated pregnant woman extremely high.

He explained that concluded that the risk of the Delta variant of COVID entering Tonga from Fiji was increasing, and that if an outbreak happened in Tonga, it could be too late to vaccinate pregnant mothers to protect them.

Dr 'Akau'ola said their only chance was to get vaccinated while Tonga is still COVID-19 free.

He said data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccine to pregnancy was being continuously collected and analysed. Results so far have not shown any significant short term adverse effects.

However, the WHO is advising countries that are choosing to give vaccines to pregnant women, to first consider if the risk of getting COVID-19 is greater than the risk of adverse events from getting the vaccine, which has so far been shown to be extremely low.