The World Health Organization or W.H.O. is now changing its mindset when it comes to pregnant women receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
In recent weeks, they have moved away from language that outright opposed immunization for pregnant women unless they are considered high risk. The new language was met with backlash as it “recommends not to use” the vaccines for pregnant women unless the women are at high risk because of potential exposures or underlying health conditions.
Many experts were disappointed with the W.H.O.’s stance.
They noted how it was inconsistent with guidance on the same issue from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and would confuse pregnant women looking for clear cut advice.
Officials have since pointed out how guidance has not been altered in the recommendations for these individual vaccines but rather reflects their safety.
“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 new advice also now aligns with the C.D.C.’s position.
And while the vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have not been tested in pregnant women, they have not shown any harmful effects in animal studies. Experts additionally say the technology used in the vaccines is generally known to be safe.
Many experts welcomed the recommendations with open arms.
Dr. Denise Jamieson, an obstetrician at Emory University and a member of the Covid expert group with the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, said she was elated over the updated advice. The association was among the many women’s health organizations that had encouraged both Pfizer and Moderna to speed up vaccine tests in regards to pregnant women.
“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 said.
“This impressively rapid revision by W.H.O. is good news for pregnant women and their babies.”
Traditionally, pregnant women have been excluded from clinical trials — pregnant women have been urged since the 1960s to receive immunizations for influenza and other diseases.
According to a spokesperson for the company, Pfizer will test its vaccine in pregnant women over the next few months, while Moderna plans to establish a registry to observe side effects in women who were immunized with its vaccine.
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