Pregnant women to be offered faster access to vaccine under new recommendation 1 week ago

Pregnant women to be offered faster access to vaccine under new recommendation

The government approved the measures today.

Pregnant women are set to be offered faster access to the Covid-19 vaccine under new recommendations.

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The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) brought their proposal to Cabinet today, recommending that the mRNA vaccine be offered to pregnant women between 14 and 36 weeks gestation following a discussion with their doctor.

It is not yet known exactly how the vaccines will be offered to pregnant women, but Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said that a new system will be phased in.

He added that pregnant women will not be added to a different cohort, but that they will likely be able to discuss vaccine referrals with their doctor.

RTÉ News reports that the change comes as decisions around the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines are also considered.

NIAC has also recommended that both vaccines be made available to people over the age of 50. Previously, the AstraZeneca vaccine was only available for those over 60.

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Donnelly has said that if approved, the decision will allow Ireland to administer the vaccines as quickly as possible. Despite the new shortage regarding Johnson & Johnson, he added that the country's rollout is "full steam ahead."

This comes after a new study showed an increase in deaths and stillbirths during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier this month, research published in the Lancet Global Health journal found that more pregnant women have died globally during the pandemic than in previous years.

The study - which analysed data from 17 countries and 40 studies - also found that there was an increase in stillbirths and other pregnancy complications over the past year.

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Last month, pregnant women in Ireland were urged to maintain standard safety practices regarding Covid-19 after four reports of stillbirths were being potentially linked to the virus.

"We know from international data, this is a very rare condition," Dr Ronan Glynn said at the time. We wouldn't expect to see high incidences in this country. These findings are preliminary."

Prior to the easing of maternity hospital restrictions in Ireland, there had also been a sharp increase in home births. Hospitals were told last week they could begin easing their restrictions slowly.