Coronavirus vaccination – Should pregnant women get vaccinated?
Owing to insufficient data, the Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) has not issued a general recommendation on the vaccination of pregnant and breast-feeding women against COVID-19 at this point in time. This article contains the latest developments in the research on coronavirus vaccination for pregnant women.
It is not easy for pregnant women to assess the benefits and risks of getting a coronavirus vaccination. That is because very limited data is currently available on the use of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy. This is also why there is currently no general recommendation by the Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) regarding coronavirus vaccination during pregnancy. However, the STIKO is currently in the process of systematically reviewing the existing evidence on the disease risk, as well as the efficacy and safety of the vaccination for pregnant women. As soon as the process is completed, the STIKO will issue another statement on the important topic.
Good to know: This does not mean that the STIKO is afraid that the vaccination poses a specific danger to pregnant women; it simply means that, at this point in time, the STIKO does not yet consider itself in a position to properly assess the situation. BioNTech has already started a worldwide study with 4,000 pregnant women, the results of which are expected in August 2022.
Weighing up the benefits and risks in consultation with your doctor
Vaccination is always an individual decision that should ideally be taken after consulting with your doctor. In such a case, the following questions could be important: Is the risk of contracting the coronavirus especially high for the pregnant woman because of pre-existing conditions? Is she subject to a high risk of exposure in her private setting against which she cannot sufficiently protect herself by means of the generally recommended measures?
In particular, pregnant women with pre-existing conditions, who are therefore at a high risk of severe COVID-19 infection or a high risk of exposure owing to their living circumstances, can be offered an mRNA vaccine from the second trimester of pregnancy, after weighing up the benefits and the risks and following an in-depth consultation by a doctor. It should also be noted: Getting a vaccine before one was aware of the pregnancy, in other words, before it could even have been taken into consideration, is not an indication for an abortion.
Has the question of liability concerning vaccinating pregnant women against coronavirus been clarified?
The liability questions surrounding the coronavirus vaccination of pregnant women have been unmistakeably clarified by section 60 of the Protection against Infection Act (IfSG). Based on section 60 of the Protection against Infection Act, the State will pay compensation for damage to health in connection with a COVID-19 vaccination, even if such vaccination has not been publicly recommended by a Land government. As a rule, this also means in cases where the vaccination is not recommended by the STIKO. This covers, for example, the individual decision of pregnant women, breastfeeding women, or young people between the ages of 12 and 17 to get vaccinated without an indication recommendation.
How are other countries handling this subject?
Some countries, such as the USA, recommend a general vaccination of pregnant women using mRNA vaccines. In other countries such as Canada or France, as well as by World Health Organization (WHO) or currently in Germany too, it is recommended that pregnant women with pre-existing conditions get vaccinated following an individual benefit-risk assessment.
Coronavirus vaccination while breast feeding
In the case of vaccination while breast feeding, the STIKO has not yet issued a general recommendation either, owing to the limited data currently available. However, the STIKO considers it highly unlikely that vaccinating a mother during the breast-feeding period poses a danger to the breast-fed infant.
May women who wish to have children get vaccinated against COVID-19?
Women who wish to have children may take the coronavirus vaccination without reservations. The available COVID-19 vaccines were tested on women – including women who wished to have children – and were found to be safe and effective. According to the Paul Ehrlich Institute, “in the context of authorising medicinal products, the best possible safety is guaranteed to exclude damage to the human reproductive system.”
No adverse effect on fertility
Rumours are still circulating on the internet, according to which the coronavirus vaccination could impact fertility. These statements are false. Comprehensive clinical studies carried out before the vaccines were authorised showed no indications of infertility occurring.