Will pregnant women be able to be vaccinated with the new COVID-19 vaccines? A panel of experts in maternal-fetal medicine recently made the case that they should at least have the option.

Without explicit data on safety in pregnant women, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) typically recommends caution in using a drug or therapy in pregnant women. In the case of the COVID-19 vaccine trials, pregnant women were excluded from these trials so far. The trials did show, however, that the vaccines have good safety profiles across multiple demographics around the world. Moreover, the type of vaccines studied the most so far, i.e. mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, should be safe in pregnancy given their biology and mode of action.

In the case of COVID-19, the known risks of infection with during pregnancy outweigh the unlikely risks of vaccination. In recent studies, pregnant women sick with COVID-19 were at higher risk for needing a ventilator and for death, than women with COVID-19 who were not pregnant. Experts in maternal fetal medicine published their recommendations for vaccination online on December 7th in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology – Maternal-Fetal Medicine (AJOG MFM).

Dr. Vincenzo Berghella, the Editor-in-Chief of AJOG MFM, and the chair of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Jefferson, agrees and argues that pregnant women should be allowed to assess their risk of exposure to the virus, and make the decision together with their providers.