Moderna COVID-19 vaccine should not be used on pregnant women - WHO

Regarding pregnant women's reactions to coronavirus vaccines in general, no research was published so far, that it be for Moderna or Pfizer's vaccines.

Visibly pregnant 34-year-old Narkis receives her coronavirus vaccine in Tel Aviv, January 21, 2021.  (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)
Visibly pregnant 34-year-old Narkis receives her coronavirus vaccine in Tel Aviv, January 21, 2021.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)
After reviewing Moderna data, a World Health Organization (WHO) panel of experts on Tuesday stated that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine should not be given to pregnant women unless they are health workers or have preexisting medical conditions putting them at high risk.

In addition, people with severe allergic reactions to any of the vaccine components should not be given the vaccine as well.

The WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization, known as SAGE, issued a series of recommendations on Moderna, several weeks after issuing their guidance on the rival Pfizer shot.

Regarding pregnant women’s reactions to coronavirus vaccines in general, no research was published so far, whether for Moderna or Pfizer’s vaccines.

WHO director of immunization Kate O’Brien said that clinical trials of the Moderna vaccine were needed on pregnant women.

“There is no reason to think there could be a problem in pregnancy, we are just acknowledging the data is not there at the moment,” she said.

The WHO was liaising with Moderna on data it submitted as part of its application for WHO emergency use listing and would make a decision soon, she added.

In Israel, the Ministry of Health gave its approval last week for pregnant women to receive the novel coronavirus vaccine.

According to the stance of the National Council for Women and the Health Ministry’s committee for determining vaccination priority, women who are highly exposed to the public or who have preexisting medical conditions are encouraged to be vaccinated to prevent infection due to their likelihood of developing a serious case of COVID-19.

“There is a higher incidence of serious COVID-19 in pregnant women who become infected with coronavirus,” the Health Ministry said in a statement. But the decision to vaccinate “is in the hands of the pregnant woman,” it added.

Until now, neither the Health Ministry, the World Health Organization nor Pfizer – the maker of the vaccine being used in Israel – have recommended allowing pregnant women to be vaccinated because the company’s clinical trials did not include them.

However, Pfizer had earlier published studies that did involve pregnant women who did not know they were pregnant when they received their vaccinations, and their pregnancies and births were normal.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein told The Jerusalem Post, “We also, in the beginning, did not administer [the vaccine] to pregnant women, or those immediately after being pregnant, or even to those who were planning to be pregnant.

“Then, Pfizer came out with a different announcement. We turned to the Israeli Association of Gynecologists and asked for their professional opinion. They have given us their professional opinion that encourages young women to come and get the vaccine.

“I would say, not being a medical doctor, that when I look at these terrible cases of a number of pregnant women who are in serious condition with the coronavirus, I say to myself, probably it is worse to take the little risk of taking the vaccine instead of finding yourself in a terrible situation in the hospital.”
Reuters contributed to this report.