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Outdated information from the United Kingdom government has been taken out of context to purport that pregnant women should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
This information is based on a December 2020 report. At the time, there was limited research available on the vaccine’s effects during and after pregnancy.
The U.K. government currently strongly recommends women who are pregnant or breastfeeding get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Outdated guidance on COVID-19 vaccinations is being taken out of context on social media to purport that pregnant women should not receive the vaccine.
An Aug. 30 Instagram post claimed the United Kingdom government is no longer recommending the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant women.
The post includes a screenshot of a document that says, "safe use of the vaccine in pregnant women cannot be provided at this time," and "women who are breastfeeding should also not be vaccinated." There is no date, title or source attached to the document.
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
This document does not accurately reflect the U.K.’s current guidance on vaccinations. The U.K. government strongly recommends pregnant women receive the COVID-19 vaccine, according to its most recent guidance updated in April.
"If you have COVID-19 disease in later pregnancy, both you and your unborn baby are at increased risk of serious disease needing hospital treatment, and intensive care support," the U.K. government’s report states. "It is important that you are protected with all your vaccine doses to keep you and your baby safe. Don’t wait until after you have given birth."
The U.K. government’s current guidance also states that there is no evidence COVID-19 vaccines have any effect on fertility or a person’s chances of becoming pregnant.
Additionally, it says vaccines can be received while breastfeeding. This is in line with guidance released by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.
More than 100,000 pregnant women in the U.K. have been vaccinated against COVID-19, the government reported in April.
The outdated information cited in the Instagram post comes from a summary of a government report about Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine released almost two years ago. The report says its information is based on data that was available when the U.K. first authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use on Dec. 1, 2020.
At the time, the U.K. did not recommend the COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant women due to the limited amount of research that had been conducted.
Soon after this report was released, at the end of December 2020, the U.K. government updated its recommendations to state that animal studies did not indicate the COVID-19 vaccine caused direct or indirect harmful effects during or after pregnancy. The U.K. has continued to update its guidance on COVID-19 vaccinations as more research has been conducted.
An Instagram post claimed the U.K. government is no longer recommending the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant women.
This post took outdated information out of context. The U.K. government currently strongly recommends pregnant and breastfeeding women receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
We rate this claim False.
Instagram post, Aug. 30, 2022
United Kingdom government, "COVID-19 vaccination: a guide on pregnancy and breastfeeding," April 11, 2022
United Kingdom government, "Summary of the Public Assessment Report for COVID-19 Vaccine Pfizer/BioNTech," Aug. 16, 2022
United Kingdom government, "Regulatory approval of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19," Aug. 16, 2022
United Kingdom government, "Information for health care professionals on Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine," archived Jan. 7, 2021
World Health Organization, "The Pfizer BioNTech (BNT162b2) COVID-19 vaccine: What you need to know," Aug. 18, 2022
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "COVID-19 vaccines for people who would like to have a baby," July 14, 2022
Associated Press, "Posts misrepresent outdated UK document on COVID-19 vaccines," May 5, 2022
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