for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up

Fact Check-Britain's MHRA still advises pregnant and breastfeeding women to get vaccinated against COVID-19

Thousands of people have interacted with social media posts that falsely claim the British government has secretly revoked approval for pregnant and breastfeeding women to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The claim stems from a misinterpretation of an update to public documents listed on a webpage of the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which detail the regulatory approval of Pfizer/BioNTech’s shot (here).

A section of one of the documents, the Summary of the Public Assessment Report for Pfizedr/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, reads: “In the context of supply under Regulation 174, it is considered that sufficient reassurance of safe use of the vaccine in pregnant women cannot be provided at the present time…

“Women who are breastfeeding should also not be vaccinated.”

According to one Twitter user who shared a screenshot of the text, it showed a change to government guidance on vaccination.

She wrote: “Ohhhh would you look at this! UK Government quietly removes approval for use of covid vax in pregnant and breastfeeding women, 2 YEARS AFTER INJECTING THEM WITH IT!!!

“Admits safety cannot be assured at this current time!!!” (here).

Another verified Twitter user also suggested the text was part of a recent change: “Updated UK government assessment for Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine” (here).

While it is true that the document being referenced is listed as being updated on Aug. 16, 2022 (here), the portion referencing pregnant and breastfeeding women was not part of the update. The document is also a record of the time of the approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine; it does not contain the latest government guidance on vaccination itself.

“The text referred to comes from the Public Assessment Report (PAR) which reflects our assessment at the time of approval for the vaccine [December 2020],” an MHRA spokesperson told Reuters via email.

“Since then, new data has come to light (both non-clinical and post-authorisation “real world” data) which supports the updated advice on vaccinating those who are pregnant and breastfeeding. Our latest advice can be found in our summary of Yellow Card COVID-19 vaccine reporting which states that the vaccines are safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding” (here).

The MHRA added that the changes made to the webpage on Aug. 16 were relevant to the “Summary of Product Characteristics and Patient Information Leaflet” sections of the document, which are on the same page as the PAR.

Dated descriptions of all the updates can be viewed under “see all updates” (here).

The only update which referred to pregnant and breastfeeding women was made on Dec. 30. 2020. The accompanying note read: “Updated the Information for UK recipients and the Information for healthcare professionals documents, to reflect changes to the dosage interval, advice for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and to those with allergies.”

Moreover, an archived version of the document from December 2020 shows exactly the same text regarding pregnant and breastfeeding women (here).

VERDICT

False. The MHRA did not revoke guidance for pregnant and breastfeeding women to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The claim comes from a misinterpretation of a document update.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.

for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up