Statement from the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists regarding pregnancy and breastfeeding, and vaccination against COVID-19 

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Statement from the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists regarding pregnancy and breastfeeding, and vaccination against COVID-19 

The Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists welcomes the introduction of vaccination against COVID-19 to Ireland. We recognise that pregnant and breastfeeding women have had a challenging time over the last year and our members have continued with ongoing care to the best of their ability in the pandemic.

The COVID-19 vaccine has been discussed with national experts in maternal-fetal medicine and lactation. We concluded that risk of severe complications from COVID-19 infection varies among pregnant women as do other medical conditions (such as hypertension and diabetes) and risk factors (such as obesity, and age) which are known to influence COVID-19 outcomes. 

Pregnant healthcare workers are numerous in our workforce and their specific needs should be considered equally alongside their non-pregnant colleagues. Assessment of risk by the individual needs acknowledgment, and the pregnant woman should be able to choose vaccination if she falls into a priority group. Counselling by healthcare provider should balance available data on vaccine safety, risks to pregnant women from COVID-19 infection, and a woman’s individual risk for infection and severe disease. While there is no data on breastfeeding, there is no known biological mechanism to cause harm.

A list of those extremely clinically vulnerable pregnant women includes the following as published by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (UK): 

  • Solid organ transplant recipients
  • Those with severe respiratory conditions including cystic fibrosis and severe asthma
  • Those who have homozygous sickle cell disease
  • Those receiving immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection
  • Those receiving dialysis or with chronic kidney disease (stage 5)
  • Those with significant congenital or acquired heart disease

We are developing some information to aid women and their caregivers to come to the appropriate decision for their circumstances.

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