Updates from College of Health Sciences

 

COVID-19 Vaccines for Pregnant Women

As of 24 March 2021, around 125 million cases of COVID-19 infection had been reported worldwide. To stop this pandemic or slow it down, several vaccines have been developed that vary in their efficacy and side effects. In general, most of the currently known vaccines showed strong efficacy against symptomatic and laboratory-confirmed infection in participants aged 18 years and above. Around 6% of the global population has been vaccinated, but certain groups are advised not to be vaccinated due to the lack of data. These groups include pregnant and lactating women, children, and immunodeficiency patients, who were not included in the vaccines' development and clinical evaluation.

 

An article published in January 2021 by the Khaleej Times entitled 'UAE Covid vaccine: Why pregnant women shouldn't take the jab' advised women planning pregnancy not to take the vaccine following recommendations from obstetricians and gynecologists. They ask women who were planning to take the vaccine to avoid pregnancy for the following three to six months as a precautionary measure until concrete data is available. These recommendations may deter women who are planning pregnancy from taking the vaccine. This could be problematic as pregnant women with severe or critical COVID-19 infection are at increased risks of preterm birth and miscarriage. For example, a study of hospitalized pregnant women reported that the risk of preterm delivery ranged from 10 – 25% and up to 60% among women with a critical illness. Additionally, pregnant women may be at a higher risk of severe illness and death than nonpregnant women. As a result, the current discussion is about analyzing the benefits and risks of pregnant women taking COVID-19 vaccines until more data is available.

 

Overall, the benefits of the vaccines for pregnant women are promising and, hopefully, future studies will prove this. Until then, the risks of vaccines to pregnant women, the fetus, and the newborn must be acknowledged in transparent discussions with those who decide to take them.

 

References:


Dr. Hatem Abushammala, Assistant Professor

Environmental Health and Safety Program

College of Health Sciences

Abu Dhabi University
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