COVID vaccines not yet recommended for pregnant women

Paul Hayes

26/01/2021 5:06:37 PM

RANZCOG made the recommendation after reviewing all available evidence.

Pregnant woman in face mask
RANZCOG believes most ‘pregnant women infected with COVID ‘will experience only mild or moderate cold/flu-like symptoms’.

‘Although the available data do not indicate any safety concern or harm to pregnancy, there is insufficient evidence to recommend routine use of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy.’
That is the finding of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG), which on Tuesday updated its information on COVID-19 vaccination in pregnant and breastfeeding women.
The recommendation comes a day after Australia approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for use ahead of the planned February rollout.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women have not been part of vaccine trials to date, meaning little is known about any potential adverse effects on such women and their children.
But according to RANZCOG, ‘it is expected that the large majority of pregnant women infected with COVID-19 will experience only mild or moderate cold/flu-like symptoms’.
‘However, if a pregnant woman meets the definition of being particularly vulnerable, then she should discuss the option of COVID-19 vaccination with her obstetrician and/or midwife,’ RANZCOG said in its statement.
‘This is based on the observation that people with certain underlying medical conditions are at very high risk of experiencing serious complications of COVID-19.’
RANZCOG says the most likely relevant groups of pregnant women include those:

  • with significant pre-existing medical conditions (eg diabetes)
  • who have received solid organ transplant
  • with chronic respiratory conditions including cystic fibrosis and severe asthma
  • who have homozygous sickle cell disease
  • receiving immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection
  • receiving dialysis or with advanced chronic kidney disease
  • with significant congenital or acquired heart disease.
While Department of Health Secretary Professor Brendan Murphy said the Government will wait for more expert advice before making specific vaccine recommendations for pregnant women, he believes the risk of the Pfizer vaccine during pregnancy is ‘probably very low’.
‘I note that the US and UK have different recommendations about pregnancy,’ he said.
‘We will be getting advice from the TGA [and] that is coming very shortly, before the vaccine is administered.’
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