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‘Pregnant individuals should be vaccinated against COVID-19’

Organizations’ statement co-written by maternal-fetal medicine expert Dr. Emily Miller
Pregnant people were excluded from initial trials of the COVID-19 vaccines.

The two leading organizations representing specialists in obstetric care issued a joint statement July 30 overtly recommending that all pregnant individuals be vaccinated against COVID-19 — an update from an April 2021 statement that recommended the vaccine not be withheld from pregnant individuals. 

Northwestern Medicine’s Chief of Obstetrics Dr. Emily Miller is a member of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s (SMFM’s) COVID-19 Task Force, which issued the statement and helped write the language.

“This language change reflects months of hard work by scientists to fill the chasm created by the exclusion of pregnant people from the initial trials of the COVID-19 vaccines,” said Dr. Miller, adding that this exclusion has contributed to concern in the general population about the safety of the vaccines in pregnant people. 

“I am hopeful this data-driven language change from ‘should not be excluded’ to ‘recommend vaccination’ will help pregnant people feel more confident in their decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.”

Why the change?

“Cases are rising. We have increasing and reassuring data published about vaccine safety in pregnancy, which most recently includes reassuring data pertaining to no increased risk of miscarriage for those vaccinated in the first trimester and that efficacy of the vaccine is high for pregnant people,” Miller said. “These data give us the reassurance we need to affirm that the COVID-19 vaccines are both safe and effective when given during pregnancy.” 

Studying the vaccine in pregnancy

Dr. Miller’s recent research shows the COVID-19 vaccine does not damage the placenta in pregnancy and, further, getting the vaccine earlier in pregnancy leads to better antibody transfer to the baby.

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