05:55 GMT25 July 2021
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    While multiple nations across the world have been inoculating their pregnant women against COVID for a while now, it has not yet been proven whether a newborn is protected against coronavirus if the mother is vaccinated during pregnancy.

    Citing the bulk of available medical data from other countries, the Danish National Board of Health has updated the guidelines for who can be vaccinated in order to include pregnant and breastfeeding women, Danish Radio has reported.

    So far, they have been excluded from Denmark's vaccination programme, despite numerous population groups representing various age brackets having already received their COVID shots. Denmark has plans to inoculate everyone starting from age 12 and over.

    The Danish health authorities have been hesitant to offer the vaccine to some specific groups, including pregnant women, citing insufficient data. Yet, new insights and experience from other countries have resulted in a marked U-turn, as it has been found to be "effective and safe".

    "Data from these countries concordantly shows that the vaccines are very effective and safe for both pregnant women and the unborn child, as well as the breastfed child", the health authority said, citing experience from countries such as the US, Israel, and Canada with mRNA vaccines by BioNtech-Pfizer and Moderna.

    Pregnant women are said to have a heightened risk of a serious illness from COVID-19, whereas an infection during pregnancy also may increase the chance of premature birth.

    "Based on technical knowledge about the vaccine's effect and safety we can now present a safe solution to the women that have been unhappy with not being vaccinated", said the head of Danish National Board of Health Søren Brostrøm. "As an obstetrician myself, I know how important it is for pregnant women to feel safe during their pregnancy", he stressed.

    The new guidelines make it possible for women to get the vaccine in all three trimesters of their pregnancy. However, as a cautionary measure it is recommended to wait until the second or third trimester. Doing otherwise requires the approval of a doctor.

    The new recommendations come after weeks of criticism that Denmark, contrary to its neighbours like Sweden, has been hesitant to offer the vaccine to pregnant and breastfeeding women.

    "When it comes to pregnant women and their unborn child, we must be absolutely sure of what we say", Brostrøm said.

    While several nations have been inoculating their pregnant women against COVID, it has not yet been proven whether a newborn is protected against coronavirus if the mother is vaccinated during pregnancy.

    Previously, a joint Nordic study indicated a low risk of hospitalisation due to COVID-19 in pregnant women in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway at 0.4 hospitalisations per 1,000 births. No stillbirths or deaths among newborn were registered. Other studies, however, have shown that pregnant women who experience symptomatic coronavirus run an increased risk of premature birth and acute caesarean section.

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    Tags:
    vaccination, coronavirus, COVID-19, Scandinavia, Denmark
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