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New advice: pregnant women should get priority vaccination

Credit: Belga

Contrary to its previous advice, Belgium’s Superior Health Council now recommends that all pregnant women should be vaccinated against the coronavirus as a matter of priority.

Based on the latest scientific evidence and recommendations, the Council – which is the scientific advisory body of the government – states that pregnant women have an increased risk of severe Covid-19, and of preterm delivery.

The recommendation stated that pregnant women should be vaccinated in Phase 1B of Belgium’s vaccination strategy, which is currently ongoing and sees all over-65s and people with an underlying condition receiving a shot.

“Given the small number of people involved, vaccination priority of pregnant women in phase 1B of the campaign will not have a significant effect on the vaccination of people aged 45-64 without comorbidity,” the council added.

With this, the Superior Health Council is revising its earlier advice in January of this year, when it did not recommend systematic vaccination of pregnant women, due to “the lack of specific data, and following the most recent recommendations of both the European Medicines Agency and the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation – UK).”

However, vaccination of pregnant women could still be considered on an individual basis “if the benefit-risk balance is favourable to vaccination,” the Council said then.

Additionally, the Council confirms that the currently available Covid-19 mRNA vaccines – which are those from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna – can safely be given to pregnant women, and that breastfeeding women may be vaccinated as well.

The Council also does not object to the systematic vaccination of women of childbearing age who want to become pregnant, particularly if it concerns healthcare workers at high risk of exposure, and women with underlying conditions.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times