The Health Ministry on Tuesday advised pregnant women to get the coronavirus vaccine after a number of women expecting a baby fell seriously ill with COVID-19, sparking concerns.
“There is no evidence of harm resulting from vaccination during the entire pregnancy,” the Health Ministry said in a statement that also included a warning.
“In pregnant women who become infected and fall ill with the coronavirus, there is a higher incidence of a severe onset of the disease, than in a similar age population,” the ministry said.
Pregnant women who choose to be vaccinated can do so through their health maintenance organization, the ministry said.
Ten pregnant women have become seriously ill and hospitalized in recent days due to coronavirus infections, according to Hebrew media reports.
Their babies were delivered prematurely via Caesarean section procedures due to life-threatening risks to the mothers and the children, the reports said.
Some of the women are suspected of having been infected with the so-called British strain of the coronavirus, a mutated strain that is believed to be more infectious, though not considered more deadly.
Due to the incidences of pregnant women becoming seriously ill, Health Ministry Director-General Chezy Levy consulted with the National Council for Women’s Diseases and Fertility and an official committee that decides on prioritization for vaccinations.
The priority committee gave its approval for pregnant women of all ages to get the vaccine that has so far only been available to medical workers, those over the age of 45, and at-risk groups.
The committee recommended vaccinations for pregnant women who are regularly exposed to the public or who have medical conditions, while other expecting mothers can decide for themselves what to do based on Health Ministry advisories.
In its Tuesday statement, the Health Ministry stressed that experts have assessed that “there is no biological mechanism that explains the possibility of harm to the mother or fetus.”
The ministry added that women who were vaccinated while unaware that they were pregnant did not have more irregular developments during the pregnancy than those who were not vaccinated.
Clinical trials for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that Israel is using for its mass vaccination campaign did not include pregnant or lactating women and the companies have said there was insufficient data to show if there is any risk involved.
That led authorities in some countries to exclude pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers from their vaccination programs, including in Israel.
After the ten pregnant women were hospitalized recently with the virus — four in the past week — the Health Ministry ordered that all of them be tested to…