With a scarcity of clear guidelines and different recommendations from country to country, the COVID vaccine is especially hard to navigate for pregnant and breastfeeding people. Here’s everything we all know thus far.
It’s been a whirlwind few months for researchers working furiously on COVID vaccines, and for the frontline healthcare workers who were, in many places, first in line to suddenly receive them within the days just before Christmas. But there’s one group that has struggled with mixed messages and unclear guidance about COVID vaccine safety: anyone who’s pregnant, getting to be pregnant soon, or breastfeeding.
For healthcare workers who also are nursing moms, or for children of childbearing age who work high-risk jobs but hope to conceive within the near future, the shortage of clear answers around COVID vaccination during pregnancy and breastfeeding has been frustrating.
Public health authorities and advisory groups in several countries have weighed the risks and benefits and communicated their guidance about vaccine safety for pregnant women differently: within the UK, health officials decided that without detailed information on safety, they are not comfortable with pregnant people being vaccinated within the least.
In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) decided that American women should get to settle on for themselves, after discussing the advantages and therefore the risks with their doctors, and therefore the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and therefore the Society for Maternal and Fetal Medicine strongly agreed. Meanwhile, the earth Health Organization issued guidance for pregnant women that they swiftly changed every day later, after an outcry from women’s health advocates.
In fact, many women’s health advocates are arguing that it's actually unethical to exclude or prohibit pregnant people from getting a vaccine since pregnant people are at higher risk of severe disease and hospitalization if they are doing get COVID-19. (The CDC reported that during a study of 23,000 pregnant women with symptomatic COVID, pregnant women were about 3 times more likely to wish ICU care or a ventilator.) The known, well-documented side effects and poor outcomes for pregnant people with COVID are a greater risk than the unknown, still-hypothetical side effects of a vaccine.
In Canada, the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI) initially declared that the “COVID-19 vaccine shouldn't be offered to populations excluded from clinical trials until further evidence is out there,” which led to headlines saying it wasn’t recommended here. However, their official statement goes on to mention that it’s really all about doing a risk assessment for every person. A COVID vaccine could also be offered if the “benefits of the vaccine outweigh the potential risks for the individual.” Clear as mud, right?
We don’t have enough absolute, real-world data, and that’s commonplace, I hate to say it when it involves pregnant women,” says Hanna. “So it’s about the risks of what we don’t know versus the risks of what we do know. And this is often where shared decision-making with a patient and care provider involves the forefront.”
Simply put, pregnant people and lactating people weren't included in any of the vaccine clinical trials out of caution, which suggests we don’t have much safety data to travel on. But there are several important things we do know:
Some people that got the vaccine within the initial clinical trials got pregnant inadvertently, and are OK thus far.
Is it better to be vaccinated before trying to conceive, during pregnancy, or when you’re breastfeeding?
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Content created and supplied by: Hezey (via Opera News )