Don't deny women the COVID-19 vaccine -- frontline healthcare workers' plea.
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This is an urgent plea from members of your frontline healthcare team to give women the choice to vaccinate to protect themselves, their patients, their children, and their communities. We are gravely concerned with the Ministry’s decision to ignore all the expert consensus statements and guidelines which recommend that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding be offered the vaccine: NACI, SOGC, ACOG, OSOG, OMA-OB, InfantRisk, CDC, MFM, and ABM* – all of these groups endorse offering the vaccine in this context.
For example, the SOGC states: “For individuals who are at high risk of infection and/or morbidity from COVID-19, it is the SOGC’s position that the documented risk of not getting the COVID-19 vaccine outweighs the theorized and undescribed risk of being vaccinated during pregnancy or while breastfeeding and vaccination should be offered”
The Ministry’s current position leaves women working in the trenches of the pandemic having to choose between 1) continue to work unprotected on the frontlines, exposing themselves, their babies, and all of their contacts to the risk of COVID-19 infection, or 2) lie about their pregnant or breastfeeding status in order to receive this protection, or 3) terminate breastfeeding prematurely, losing all the associated benefits of same.
Denying women the right to choose to vaccinate not only places our frontline workers and our community at greater risk of contracting this preventable disease, it undermines a woman’s ability to make decisions about her own health – such paternalism does not belong in 2021. The COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force touts ‘equity’ and ‘fairness’ as cornerstones of their ethical framework; therefore, we are optimistic that this letter will prompt the team to remedy this error without any further delay.
Your frontline healthcare workers
*NACI: National Advisory Committee on Immunization; SOGC: Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada; ACOG: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; CDC: Center for Disease Control and Prevention; MFM: the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine; ABM: Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine
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