Health experts in Australia and New Zealand have recommended offering the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to women at any stage of pregnancy. Previously, only pregnant women at high risk of infection were advised to consider the shot.
The updated medical advice was issued on Wednesday by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), an expert health panel advising the Australian government, and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG).
Noting that “the risk of severe outcomes from Covid-19 is significantly higher for pregnant women and their unborn baby,”a joint statement from the two groups said that: “Global surveillance data from large numbers of pregnant women have not identified any significant safety concerns with mRNA Covid-19 vaccines given at any stage of pregnancy.”
“Furthermore, there is also evidence of antibody in cord blood and breast milk, which may offer protection to infants through passive immunity,” the release said, suggesting that getting a jab during pregnancy could potentially extend a level of temporary immunity to the baby before and after birth.
A separate RANZCOG statement noted that, while the vast majority of infected pregnant women would experience mild or moderate cold/flu-like symptoms, there was also a greater potential risk of complications, including reduced lung function, increased oxygen consumption, and changed immunity.