Ontario will finally vaccinate pregnant women

After months of diverging opinions, the government of Doug Ford, Ontario, has made it the first county to prioritize pregnant women in a vaccine rollout plan, without specific conditions.


Sarah Smiley
The Canadian Press

Health workers and medical professionals believe this decision represents a victory for pregnant women and general health in general.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said Monday that her team has learned a lot about vaccines in a very short period of time. “Even though it wasn’t as strict as it used to be, they still recommend it to pregnant women […] Talk to a doctor or nurse practitioner before getting vaccinated. ”

In the follow-up details of Ontario’s vaccination plan on Friday, health officials listed pregnancy as a factor that puts a person at risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19. This means that pregnant women can be vaccinated during the second phase of the maintenance plan.

Saskatchewan has included pregnant women with major heart disease in the second phase of its immunization plan. On February 26, Quebec’s National Institute of Public Health indicated in a temporary notice that a pregnant woman could be vaccinated “especially if she is at risk of developing serious complications if she has COVID-19 or if she is at high risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2.” (Like a health care worker).

Other provinces exclude pregnancy from their vaccination plans, and issue separate advice that pregnant women should see their doctor.

Dr Heather Watson, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Manitoba, believes Ontario made the right decision. “Our research shows that COVID-19, when severe during pregnancy, increases the risk of going into intensive care three times,” she said in an interview on Sunday. “We know that vaccines historically work just as well during pregnancy as they do outside of pregnancy.”

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Ultimately, she says, the other provinces will emulate Ontario. Professor Watson collaborated on the recommendations of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada regarding immunization of pregnant women, which were released on December 18 and reaffirmed on March 5. The company argued that women should not be excluded from vaccination on the basis of pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Dr Constance Ncelo, president of the Ontario Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, says the guidelines have changed for pregnant women because the evidence has changed. She explained that pregnant women were excluded from early clinical trials of the vaccines Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, as usual. However, 36 women were found during the clinical trials and have been followed since then, according to a report from the Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada.

These 36 women, Dr. Nazilo said, were for a while the only source of data on how these vaccines might affect pregnancy. As a result, pregnant women have been told that there is not enough evidence to vaccinate them.

Dr. Nazilo said studies have since shown that vaccination is safe during pregnancy. “At first, the risk was unknown, but it seemed low; today it will actually be very, very weak.”

Meanwhile, mounting evidence suggests that pregnancy is a risk factor for more severe symptoms of COVID-19. She said, “A pregnant woman is immunocompromised, so she has a 10-14% chance of being hospitalized due to a serious illness, and 2-4% in intensive care.”

Dr. Courtney Westerlaken, Ottawa GP – and pregnant women – also welcome the Ontario government’s decision. She claims that, like many healthcare workers, she was initially warned that her pregnancy made her ineligible for vaccination.

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Dr Westerlaken has worked at the COVID-19 Assessment Center since the start of the pandemic last March: so she was part of a priority group for a vaccine. But in January, when she indicated on a form that she was pregnant, she was told she was excluded, “which I wasn’t very happy with,” she said in an interview on Monday.

Even other frontline health workers lied about the form, if their pregnancy was not yet apparent, the master said.I am Westerlaken. But by the time her turn came, the authorities had changed her mind and received her first dose in about three weeks.

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