Following the announcement on Dec. 1 that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had been approved for use in the UK (here), a Facebook user has misleadingly suggested that plans are in place to give the vaccine to children and pregnant women.
A status posted on Dec. 2 and shared hundreds of times makes various allegations beginning with: “The vaccine has NOT been tested on children, pregnant women, people taking medications and individuals with comorbidities (Yet the plan is for all of the above to receive the vaccine)” (here).
This is misleading: the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advises the UK government, published a report on Dec. 3 saying it does not currently advise COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy, and that only children at very high risk of exposure and serious outcomes should be offered vaccination (here).
“There are no data as yet on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy, either from human or animal studies. Given the lack of evidence, JCVI favours a precautionary approach, and does not currently advise COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy,” the report says.
“Women should be advised not to come forward for vaccination if they may be pregnant or are planning a pregnancy within three months of the first dose.
“Data are anticipated which will inform discussions on vaccination in pregnancy. JCVI will review these as soon as they become available.”
In earlier information for healthcare practitioners, published by Public Health England in November 2020, advice reads: “Although the available data do not indicate any safety concern or harm to pregnancy, there is insufficient evidence to recommend routine use of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy. Vaccination should be postponed until completion of pregnancy.”
Regarding children, in its Dec. 3 document, the JCVI says: “Following infection, almost all children will have asymptomatic infection or mild disease. There is very limited data on vaccination in adolescents, with no data on vaccination in younger children, at this time. The committee advises that only those children at very high risk of exposure and serious outcomes, such as older children with severe neuro-disabilities that require residential care, should be offered vaccination.”
This is reiterated the earlier Public Health England guidance (here, page 11).
The Facebook post also alleges that Pfizer has not provided the ingredients list for the vaccine. This is not correct; the ingredients are listed in this government information leaflet for UK recipients of the vaccine (here, p. 4).
The post makes various other allegations about testing and side effects of the virus, which are not within the scope of this check.
Partly false. The Facebook post is correct that at the time of publishing the Pfizer vaccine had not been tested on pregnant women or young children. However, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has not advised vaccinating these groups, and neither did earlier information from Public Health England. The JCVI says it will review new data as it is released.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .
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