WHO says most pregnant women can now receive coronavirus vaccine

·1 min read

The World Health Organization has altered its guidance for pregnant women who wish to receive the coronavirus vaccine, saying now that those at high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 or who have comorbidities that increase their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated.

Why it matters: The WHO drew backlash for its previous guidance that did not recommend pregnant women be inoculated with vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, even though data indicated that pregnancy increased the risk of developing severe illness from the virus.

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  • Health experts said the WHO's earlier recommendation was inconsistent with guidance on the same issue from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "and would confuse pregnant women looking for clear advice," the New York Times notes.

What they're saying: The WHO warns that vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have not been tested in pregnant women, though it does not have a reason to believe the shots would pose a specific risk.

  • "While pregnancy puts women at higher risk of severe COVID-19, very little data are available to assess vaccine safety in pregnancy," the health organization said.

  • "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."

What to watch: Pfizer plans to test its vaccine in pregnant women in the coming months, a spokeswoman for the company told the Times.

  • Meanwhile Moderna will start a registry to analyze side effects in pregnant women who receive its vaccine.

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