Pregnant women should decide on vaccination against COVID-19 after consulting with their doctor

Fact checking

Darja Miljanic, UNICEF young reporter
fact checking blog visual
UNICEF Montenegro
14 April 2021

In addition to the misinformation and conspiracy theories about coronavirus, there have been claims in recent months about the harmful effects of the vaccines against COVID-19 on human health which are not scientifically based. To help uncover the various misinformation and prevent the further spread of unverified claims, UNICEF’s young reporters decided to check suspicious allegations appearing in the media and on social networks.

One of them is that pregnant women should not receive the coronavirus vaccine.

In addition to numerous international media outlets that dealt with this topic, the World Health Organization also reacted. They explained under the heading “Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine (mRNA-1273): what you need to know”:

“Although a woman’s pregnancy puts her at greater risk of a more severe form of COVID-19, very little data is available to assess the safety of the vaccine in pregnancy. However, based on what we know about this type of vaccine, we have no specific reason to believe that there will be specific risks that would outweigh the benefits of vaccination for pregnant women. For this reason, pregnant women with a high risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (e.g. healthcare professionals) or who have comorbidities that increase the risk of serious illness can be vaccinated in consultation with their doctor.”

We also checked these allegations with experts from the Public Health Institute of Montenegro.

Vaccination of pregnant women has not gone through all the clinical trials: more precisely, pregnant women were not part of the groups that were studied. Pregnancy is not a contraindication for the vaccine, which means that pregnant women have the choice of getting vaccinated or not. However, at this moment, doctors can only give a recommendation, and then a pregnant woman has to choose for herself which is a higher risk for them. There are various groups of experts who disagree on this issue, so we have American groups of gynaecologists and obstetricians who are advising that pregnant women get vaccinated, while in Britain they are not coming out either for or against it. The research is not yet complete, so we cannot give clear and solid scientific advice. It is up to pregnant women to choose for themselves and to consult their doctors about it.

Dr. Marija Božović from the Public Health Institute of Montenegro

One of the media outlets from the Balkan region that has written about this topic is BBC Serbia. Dr. Ivan Djikić, a member of the German Academy of Science, who participated in defining professional measures in the fight against the epidemic in Germany, and epidemiologist Radmilo Petrović, who has spent his working life at the Torlak Institute and who has made vaccines against influenza in Serbia, spoke concerning the main issues about the new vaccine.

The BBC reports that they said that for now, vaccination is not recommended for pregnant women because they did not participate in the control groups when the vaccine was given to a small number of people, but they add that more information on the safety of vaccinating pregnant women is expected in a few years.

Having considered all the relevant information and the views of experts in this field, we conclude that the information on the harmful effects of vaccines against COVID-19 is not accurate, but as the vaccine has not yet been studied in pregnant women, the best option is to consult one’s doctor.

In an effort to contribute to preventing the dissemination of coronavirus misinformation and to promoting credible sources of information, UNICEF’s young reporters have decided to check the accuracy of information published on social media and in the media that has attracted public attention. In verifying the accuracy of information, they have followed the example of the Public Disclosure Platform “Raskrinkavanje“ and partly used its publicly available methodology.