The Royal Dutch Organization of Midwives (KNOV), the professional association of approximately 4,000 recognized midwives or students, has raised questions about the vaccination of pregnant women through an open letter to the Health Council, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and the RIVM, among others.
Dutch pregnant women are eligible for three vaccinations, namely whooping cough (DKT), influenza and now also COVID-19
About the latter, the corona vaccines, the KNOV writes:
The Structural Covid-19 vaccination program now includes the advice to vaccinate all pregnant women against COVID-19 around 22 weeks of pregnancy. This means that they are eligible throughout the year, not just during ‘flu season’. While there is no convincing scientific basis for vaccine effectiveness and safety for pregnant women and their (unborn) children, certainly not for the long term.
Moderate evidence of benefits and not enough known about safety
In the Netherlands, caution has always been exercised when vaccinating pregnant women.
This only happened when there were risk factors. However, this policy has been abandoned. Since 2019, all pregnant women get around 22e offered the whooping cough vaccination every week. In 2021, the flu vaccination and the mRNA vaccination against Covid-19 were added.
The professional association KNOV is concerned about the rapid increase in the number of maternal vaccinations, because there is only moderate scientific evidence for the individual and social benefits. At the same time, not enough is known about the effect and safety of three vaccinations simultaneously or shortly after each other during pregnancy.
To our knowledge, no evaluations of the effects of the Dutch programs are planned. This means that evaluating any health benefits is not yet possible.
Other countries are more cautious
For both corona vaccinations and other maternal vaccinations, the KNOV writes in its letter that neighboring countries are more cautious. As an example, the organization cites the situation in Germany, where corona vaccinations for pregnant women have not been widely implemented – which is now the case in the Netherlands.
Strengthening health instead of offering vaccinations
The KNOV ends the letter with the consideration that there seems to be something wrong with the decision to offer vaccination to pregnant women:
Is this what we should spend our capacity and finances on in a time of scarcity? Is risk reduction a move in the right direction or should we focus much more on strengthening health?
Read the complete letter here.
The Doctors Collective supports the KNOV in its criticism of the increase in maternal vaccination in general and corona vaccinations in particular. In addition, the Doctors Collective supports the strategy to promote health by paying attention to nutrition, living environment and lifestyle instead of medicalizing pregnancy.
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