Pregnant and breastfeeding women in Tasmania are now being offered the Pfizer vaccine, but medical professionals say the messaging is inconsistent.
The vaccine was now routinely offered as part of antenatal care, however, Australian Medical Association spokesperson Dr Jerome Muir-Wilson said pregnant women were unable to book a vaccine through their GP unless they were over 40 years old.
Earlier this month, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation recommended that pregnant women were routinely offered the Pfizer vaccine at any stage of pregnancy.
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Tasmania's Department of Health then announced pregnant and breastfeeding women would be eligible to receive a COVID-19 Pfizer vaccination, but only in a Tasmanian government community clinic.
Dr Muir-Wilson said "it can be confusing for people given the different state and commonwealth policies regarding vaccinations."
A study released by Oxford University in April this year found that contracting COVID-19 during pregnancy greatly increased the risks to both mother and child.
Professor of Fetal Medicine at the University of Oxford Aris Papageorghiou said women with COVID-19 during pregnancy were over 50 per cent more likely to experience pregnancy complications.
"Newborns of infected women were also nearly three times more at risk of severe medical complications, such as admission to a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit - mostly due to premature birth," she said.
Associate Professor of Biomedicine at UTAS Dr Guna Karupiah said that Pfizer was considered the safest option for pregnant women due to the vaccine's design.
"Essentially the AstraZenca is made from a virus," Dr Karupiah said.
"So even though the virus is from monkeys and it shouldn't cause disease in humans, it can be dangerous for people who's immune system is down.
"That's why Pfizer is recommended for people with pre-existing conditions such as pregnancy."
Whilst Dr Karupiah said that he trusted the safety of the vaccines, he understood the hesitancy given the conflicting messages from politicians.
He encouraged people to listen to current advice from the health department.
An online petition has currently gathered 5700 signatures to petition the federal government to make vaccines more readily available for pregnant women.
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