Israel will begin vaccinating pregnant women against COVID-19 after several medical groups within the country’s health ministry stressed the risks the virus poses to pregnancy. The news comes amid reports of 10 pregnant women being listed in serious condition due to the illness.
On Tuesday, the Israeli Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology along with physicians from the National Council for Gynecology and Genetics and the Israeli Society for Maternal and Fetal Medicine published a paper stating that the virus can cause great harm to pregnancies, possibly resulting in premature birth, as well as cause severe illness in mothers.
In the U.S., emergency use authorization was granted to both Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine as well as Moderna’s, but neither subset of data included breakouts focused on pregnant or lactating women. However, since then, several medical groups have stated the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks the virus poses to pregnant women.
"We need to be far more afraid of the SARS-CoV-2 virus than the new vaccines we have to prevent COVID-19," Dr. Marc Siegel, Fox News medical analyst, said. "I would like to see further safety and efficacy data, but in the meantime, we have seen plenty of data on the ravages COVID-19 can do to both pregnant women and to the fetuses they carry."
Siegel also touted the messenger-RNA technology used to develop the vaccines, which differs from the way vaccines are traditionally created.
"There is no reason whatsoever to believe that the messenger-RNA vaccines, which do not contain any part of the virus itself, will cause any harm," he said. "They appear to be very well tolerated in all groups.
Dr. Gili Regev-Yochay, head of Sheba Medical Center’s Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit in Israel, said she is encouraging pregnant women to get vaccinated the country sees more and more ICU admissions.
"To all pregnant women who are hesitant to go and get the COVID vaccine, I personally truly recommend it," she said. "I think getting COVID while you are pregnant is worse than getting a vaccine that does not seem to be endangering pregnant women in any way."
More than 10,000 positive cases have been detected in Israel on Tuesday, which are more than 10% of the tests conducted in the past 24 hours. More than 2.1 million Israelis got their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, 20% of them got the second dose, most of them above the age of 65.