The WHO quickly changed its stance on pregnant people receiving the vaccine
The World Health Organization changed its stance for pregnant women who wish to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, reversing its earlier statement that the vaccine should only be given to pregnant women in high risk categories.
The change came after many challenged The WHO’s stance, which previously stated that it did “not recommend the vaccination of pregnant women” with the vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Conversely, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offered different recommendations and stated that pregnant women should and can get the COVID-19 vaccine, leaving pregnant people wondering what they should do.
Fortunately, the WHO changed its stance and now aligns with the CDC on its vaccine recommendation for pregnant individuals.
“While pregnancy puts women at higher risk of severe COVID-19, very little data are available to assess vaccine safety in pregnancy. Nevertheless, based on what we know about this kind of vaccine, we don’t have any specific reason to believe there will be specific risks that would outweigh the benefits of vaccination for pregnant women,” the WHO said in the updated guidance. This now aligns with the CDC recommendation.
“The more permissive W.H.O. language provides an important opportunity for pregnant women to get vaccinated and protect themselves from the severe risks of Covid-19,” Dr. Jamieson, an obstetrician at Emory University and a member of the COVID expert group with the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, told The New York Times. “This impressively rapid revision by W.H.O. is good news for pregnant women and their babies.”
Neither the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines have been tested on pregnant women but haven’t shown any potentially harmful side effects in animal studies. Pregnant women do not typically participate in drug trials and have been urged to get other vaccinations like the flu vaccine for decades.
Additionally, a National Institutes of Health-funded study published earlier this week suggests that pregnant women who do end up with a severe COVID-19 case may be at a higher risk of death and preterm delivery than those who are asymptomatic. The WHO agrees, adding that, “When pregnant women develop severe disease, they also seem to more often require care in intensive care units than non-pregnant women of reproductive age.”
The CDC went on further to explain the reason for their recommendation is because mRNA vaccines “do not interact with a person’s DNA because the mRNA does not enter the nucleus of the cell. Cells break down the mRNA quickly. Based on how mRNA vaccines work, experts believe they are unlikely to pose a specific risk for people who are pregnant.”
The LA Times reported about 1% of pregnant people in the U.S. have required ICU care for complications due to COVID-19, and 1.5 out of every 1,000 pregnant people have died.