Circulating Posts trending online unveils that a Pfizer document states that COVID-19 vaccines are harmful for pregnant women and those breastfeeding. The directives, however, are from Britain’s medicines regulator in 2020, not from Pfizer; they do not declare the shots unsafe during pregnancy or while breastfeeding but highlight a lack of data at the time of publication.
Social media users are spreading screenshots of a document with parts of its text ruled and circled in red, including “COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 is not recommended during pregnancy” and: “It is unknown whether the COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 is excreted in human milk”.
One user posting the screenshots here wrote: “I’m sure it’ll be all over the mainstream news that Pfizer has now declared their COVID vaccines unsafe for pregnancy and breastfeeding after the government coerced and mandated thousands of pregnant women into having one.”
The screenshot referenced, however, shows that information from Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in 2020, which has since been updated. Health authorities in Britain and the United States endorsed COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
The MHRA guidance, also known as “Regulation 174”, includes information for healthcare professionals on Pfizer-BioNTech’s BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine here .
The part of the text trending on social media can be seen here, dated Dec. 8, 2020.
An MHRA spokesperson informed news agency via email that “this was our assessment at the time of approval for the vaccine”.
The spokesperson added: “Since then new data which has come to light (both non-clinical and post-authorisation ‘real world’ data) supports the updated advice on vaccinating those who are pregnant and breastfeeding.
“Over 104,000 pregnant people have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in England and Scotland and no concerns of the safety of the vaccines have been raised.”
The limited evidence available at the time on COVID-19 vaccine safety during pregnancy does not indicate that COVID-19 vaccination has had a negative effect on pregnancy.
The latest version of the information for healthcare professionals, updated on Apr. 27, 2022, does not mention “COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 is not recommended during pregnancy” (here).
Evidence the MHRA has reviewed shows “no specific concerns for safety in pregnancy”, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
Elsewhere, the UKHSA explained how the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) has implored that pregnant women are more at risk of severe COVID-19 disease and not to delay vaccination until after they have given birth, but “have their COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible”.
The UKHSA also listed how over 100,000 pregnant women in the United States have been vaccinated with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, with no safety concerns mentioned.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also endorsed COVID vaccination for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, those trying to get pregnant and women who might become pregnant in the future.
According to the CDC and Britain’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG), COVID-19 vaccines cannot result to infection in anyone, including mothers and their babies.
A Pfizer spokesperson informed Newsmen that, based on present knowledge, experts believe that COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to foster a risk on the pregnant person or fetus.
The spokesperson also explained the limited data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in breastfeeding mothers and the effects of COVID-19 vaccines on breastfed babies, milk production and excretion, which is also explained by the CDC here .
The CDC advises, however, that while more data are needed to confirm what level of protection is provided to babies, reports have shown that breastfeeding people who have received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have antibodies in their breast milk (here).
This report had previously been debunked as false claims around COVID-19 vaccination, pregnancy and breastfeeding.
There is also no evidence to back claims that COVID-19 vaccines are causing lose of pregnancies.
Missing context. The screenshot in circulation is not of a Pfizer document but 2020 guidance from Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, which has since been reviewed. It is not evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are harmful during pregnancy or while lactating.