COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy
The COVID-19 vaccination programme currently being rolled out in the UK is surpassing many in the world, with close to 20 million people vaccinated (Sky News, 2021). Three vaccines have been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency UK, namely the Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines. Questions around their efficacy remain, as well as the potential side effects. More so however, should pregnant women be getting vaccinated, as well as those that are breastfeeding?
With little data published about the effects of the approved vaccines on pregnant women, the Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, UK Teratology Information Service and MacDonald Obstetric Medicine Society have created an info sheet to help pregnant women decide whether or not to get vaccinated, with a strong emphasis on it being the women's choice-which I found to be important. At the time of print, the COVID-19 vaccines that are being offered to pregnant women are for those who are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill if they had to contract the virus and those health and social care workers on the frontline.
While there are both risks and benefits to being vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, the choice to get vaccinated lies with the individual. Publishing information such as this is significant, especially during a time of uncertainty like that which we currently find ourselves in, as it can offer those women who are sceptical or scared a comforting reassurance that even though we may not have all of the answers right now, there are credible resources encouraging us to make informed decisions.
Being encouraged by our leaders in health and social care is also motivating. In an open letter to frontline health and social care workers, published on an NHS England letterhead, leaders in midwifery and nursing have urged their colleagues to get the COVID-19 vaccine, as ‘people who work directly with some of those who are most vulnerable, we have a collective duty both to protect ourselves for their sake, and to lead by example (Nursing Notes, 2021).’ This will encourage those eligible for a vaccine to do so, thus protecting themselves and those classified as vulnerable, including pregnant women, from contracting SARS-CoV-2. The choice is ours and making informed decisions based on the information ready available to us can save lives.