In August 2022 UK health agencies clarified that the recommendation for covid vaccination during pregnancy has not changed, despite social media mayhem. A Twitter user (who has now been suspended) shared a post that identified a document from 2020. This was, as usual, appealingly alarming to thousands of other uses who shared this misinformation, adding their opinions.
Old news makes the rounds
The poster shared a report from December 2020 that stated “reassurance of safe use of the vaccine in pregnant women cannot be provided at the present time” due to an absence of data. Furthermore, the report suggested that women who breastfeed “should also not be vaccinated”. This was shared across the world thanks to social media.
Since this report was issued data have been gathered; there is no link between the vaccine and pregnancy or birth problems. Indeed, it has been suggested that the vaccine reduces pregnancy risks. For pregnant patients, Covid-19 infection is more likely to results in hospitalisation, particularly in the third trimester.
The confusion arose when it was revealed that the webpage containing the statement had been updated in mid-August to reflect new information about boosters. However, The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) confirmed that the vaccine safety information “was not updated”. It will investigate ways to clarify the website for the future.
Speaking out against misinformation
A spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Care said that the vaccines are “safe and highly effective” for pregnant and breastfeeding recipients.
“This is backed by extensive real-world data, including global analysis outside of clinical trials and in healthcare settings”.
Current NHS guidance emphasises that it is “safe” to take the vaccine “during any stage of pregnancy”.
Facts for the future
Although originally there was limited data on vaccination in pregnancy at the time, this has gradually improved throughout the pandemic. Pregnant women were not included in original trials, which is standard according to the NHS Health Research Authority. However, as women got pregnant during the trials and after the vaccine was widely distributed researchers were given access to a pool of pregnant people.
Further research, including 27 studies in 8 countries, found that of 316,470 women considered the risks of miscarriage, birth complications or abnormalities in infants were not increased. The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation also used evidence from the US V-Safe study. This found no safety concerns among 20,000 patients who received the vaccine during pregnancy.