Pregnant People Are Still Not Getting Vaccinated Against Covid

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calendar year three In epidemics, and among pregnant people, vaccination coverage is surprisingly low.

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According to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of January 1, just over 40 percent Pregnant people aged 18 to 49 in the United States were fully vaccinated before pregnancy or during their pregnancy, compared to 66 percent of the general population over the age of 5. For black pregnant people, that figure drops to about 25 percent. Data for the United Kingdom is slightly less up to date, but just as of August 2021 22 percent women Those who gave birth were fully vaccinated.

with and omicron Running on a large scale, this is a problem. In late 2021, the UK’s vaccine watchdog, the Joint Committee on Immunization and Immunization, announced After this, a priority group will be made for vaccination of pregnant women. reams Of Research has shown how sensitive the group is to COVID.

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But misinformation has spread within expectant parenting communities, where viral rumors spread that vaccines cause of infertility or abortion, or the spike protein found in them a . harms protein found in placenta, One check by Washington Post found that not only are discussion forums on apps aimed at first-time parents with bogus claims, but they also include tips on how to persuade doctors to delay or skip vaccines for pregnant adults and their babies .

expectant parents traditionally Display more vaccine hesitation compared to non-pregnant peers. “You have to understand that, at a baseline level, pregnant people are intimidated,” says Neil Shah, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School and chief medical officer of the telehealth company Maven Clinic. for women’s health. “There are a lot of social messages surrounding pregnancy that make pregnant people feel like everything around them could be a threat.” Within these communities, any whisper of potential harm to a parent or child will spread like wildfire.

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To be quite clear: Data has shown the vaccines to be safe. a Study released this month The CDC of more than 46,000 pregnant women showed that vaccination does not increase the risk of premature or small birth. Other recent studies have plentiful got to know that vaccination does not affect fertility. There is no evidence of risk from getting vaccinated during breast-feeding; In fact, research Is got to know That the protective antibodies that a body produces against Covid make their way into breast milk, potentially providing some protection to a baby.

On the other hand, data has also shown that COVID can be fatal for pregnant people and their babies. A study in 2020 british medical journal found that if you become infected during your pregnancy, your baby’s risk of being born prematurely doubles; The risk of stillbirth triples. Another study that year from the US found that there was a risk of death for pregnant women with covid 22 times more compared to their counterparts without Covid. Pregnant people who are covid-positive at birth are more likely Suffering from preeclampsia or requiring an emergency caesarean delivery.

Physicians have also started reporting a particular side effect of covid during pregnancy, which they are calling covid placentitis, Placentitis is an inflammation of the placenta, usually caused by an infectious agent, and is associated with stillbirth. And, more worryingly, cases are not being reported in patients with the most severe presentations of COVID – they are appearing in those patients. mild to moderate case

By July 2021, more than 99 percent Among pregnant people admitted to hospitals in the UK, Covid-19 was symptomatic who had not been vaccinated. But bad vaccines cannot be blamed only on the spread of misinformation. In fact, some of it can be boiled down to distorting public health messaging. Public health bodies in different parts of the world have repeatedly changed their stance: previously pregnant people were not given vaccines. They could then choose to get vaccinated, but they were not actively recommended. It took a full eight months after the vaccines were first available to be recommended for pregnant people in the US.

The inconsistency meant pregnant people were unsure who to listen to or what the current advice was. (The term “pregnant people” includes trans and non-binary parents.) “What we weren’t good enough was making sure that every time the message changed, everyone got the memo,” says one of the pregnancy studies. says immunologist Vicki Male. Imperial College London. It doesn’t matter if a public health body updates its guidance – if news of the change doesn’t reach the intended audience, it won’t help.

A survey conducted by Maven Clinic, the company where Shah works, asked 500 nationally representative pregnant people in the US why they had not been vaccinated. over 60 percent simple don’t know Vaccination was recommended during pregnancy. (Even today, the webpage belonging to the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency public evaluation Pfizer Vaccine currently has warnings that “adequate assurance of the safe use of the vaccine in pregnant women cannot be provided at the present time” and that breastfeeding women should also not be vaccinated – both untrue.)

The men point to Canada as a country that handled it better: officials were outspoken about any changes to policy, and as a result, the percentage of fully vaccinated pregnant people compared to the US and UK. I have much more. For example, in the province of Ontario, about 60 percent People who got pregnant in September had received at least one dose.

While health officials were silent, pregnant people were instead told to turn to trusted experts: their midwives, primary care providers and ob-gyns. But the messages he received were mixed. In the Maven Clinic survey, a third of respondents said they had been advised against the vaccine by medical providers. Another survey of pregnant people in the UK was done by pregnant so bad, a maternity campaign charity, found that more than 40 percent He said he was made to question the safety of the vaccine by health professionals.

“We were so infatuated with our messages, especially for pregnant people, and at such a slow pace, because historically we have not given priority to pregnant people,” Shah says. Scientific research has a long history forget women, and, in particular, women carrying fetuses. The sordid legacy of thalidomide—a deadly drug distributed in the 1950s that caused the deaths of thousands of children and left them with multiple organ malformations—means that medical researchers have approached pregnant people with an excess of caution. it’s been a pandemic nothing is different: A 2021 subject of study the Lancet found that three-quarters of trials of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines explicitly excluded pregnant women. “The default situation for all of society—to which the health care profession, including doctors, is not immune—is too much hesitation to give medicine to pregnant people,” says Shah.

This meant that the lag in waiting for data on the safety of vaccines gave people enough time to be skeptical or fearful. Meanwhile, communications from health officials faltered, Maley says, “and this is certainly a place where people who, for whatever reason, want to spread misinformation, can fall prey to that population.”

Male says we should never have needed to give priority to pregnant people for vaccination. “We should have thought, this would be a group that we probably want to vaccinate. And if this is a group that we want to be vaccinated, we need to test a vaccine in this population,” she says. After the Zika virus pandemic, one group said Stop It was established by academia to formulate guidelines for ethical inclusion of pregnant people in vaccine trials during a public health emergency. (The acronym stands for Vaccines, Epidemiology, and New Technologies Working Group for Pregnancy Research Ethics.) The guidelines include clear and relevant communication of vaccine efficacy for pregnant people, as well as vaccine confidence among this group. Evidence-based strategies to encourage

But in this case, the guidelines were not implemented, Maley says. “If we ever end up in another situation like this, I think if we think pregnant people need to be vaccinated, we need to get them into trials,” she says.

Shah believes that failure to prioritize getting pregnant, and its dire consequences, is something we should have been prepared for in advance. “During every humanitarian disaster – be it a pandemic, a war, a weather event – ​​the well-being of pregnant people is adversely affected,” says Shah. “And I don’t know why we feel like we need to learn this lesson over and over again.”


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