The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that pregnant women should not get Moderna’s Wuhan coronavirus vaccine. It issued the warning because of insufficient data proving that it was safe for pregnant women. The global health body’s pronouncement applied to more than three million expectant mothers in the U.S., who are at a higher risk of suffering from severe COVID-19.
In a Jan. 26 statement, the WHO said it did not recommend giving the Moderna mRNA shot to pregnant women. “While pregnancy puts women at a higher risk of severe COVID-19, the use of this vaccine in pregnant woman is currently not recommended,” the statement said. Frontline healthcare workers and those with underlying conditions are among the pregnant women at high risk for the disease.
WHO Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals Director Kate O’Brien stressed the need for clinical trials on pregnant women using the Moderna vaccine. “There is no reason to think there could be a problem in pregnancy. We are just acknowledging the data is not there at the moment,” she said during a Jan. 26 virtual press briefing.
A number of medical professionals have opposed the exclusion of pregnant women from vaccination. They argue that patients themselves should decide whether they want to avail of the jab or not. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) is among these parties against the exclusion of pregnant women from vaccination trials and guidance.
ACOG said in a statement that pregnant women should have the final say on taking the jab and be informed of any risks. “Pregnant individuals are more likely to have certain manifestations of severe illness associated with COVID-19 infection. Further, upwards of half of pregnant individuals also fall into another high-priority category – including frontline workers and those with underlying conditions,” it said.
The statement added that “ACOG continues to urge that for pregnant individuals, the decision to vaccinate must be left to each patient in [consultation] with their trusted clinician.”
Excluding pregnant women in vaccine trials is not an uncommon practice. However, doctors have expressed concerns about pregnant women being unable to receive the vaccine. Millions of pregnant or breastfeeding women are members of the workforce.
According to an October 2020 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), female workers comprise 75 percent of the healthcare workforce. About 330,000 healthcare workers “could be pregnant or recently postpartum at [the] time of vaccine implementation, it added. Furthermore, the report stated that pregnant COVID-19 patients are twice as likely to be admitted to intensive care units and thrice more likely to require a ventilator than non-pregnant patients.
U.K. Royal College of Midwives Director for Scotland Dr. Mary Ross Davie said: “There is not enough evidence to recommend vaccinating pregnant women against COVID-19. There is no evidence of harm, but there is also no current evidence of safety as pregnant women were excluded from all of the vaccination trials.”
A similar guidance had been issued with the earlier Pfizer/BioNTech Wuhan coronavirus vaccine. LifeSiteNews reported in early December 2020 that the British government warned against pregnant or breastfeeding women getting the BNT162b2 jab. According to U.K. authorities, the vaccine’s effects on fertility are still “unknown.” (Related: Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines share the same problem: They’re unsafe for people with allergies.)
The U.K. issued the warning in a 10-page guide outlining the vaccine’s proper storage, dilution and administration. Section 4.6 of the guide dealt with fertility, pregnancy and lactation. It said: “COVID-19 mRNA vaccine BNT162b2 is not recommended during pregnancy … [and] should not be used during breast-feeding.” The document also warned women of child-bearing age that “pregnancy should be excluded before vaccination” and that they should “avoid pregnancy for at least two months after their second dose.” (Related: Pfizer coronavirus vaccine warning: No breastfeeding or getting pregnant after being immunized… it might damage the child.)
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