Ebola Vaccine Studies Should Include Pregnant Women

Mother Jones: Vaccine Studies Still Exclude Pregnant Women. That’s a Big Mistake.
Rosa Furneaux, Ben Bagdikian editorial fellow at Mother Jones

“…Even though Ebola is a severe and often fatal disease, the [experimental Ebola] vaccine is not available for pregnant or lactating women because there is not enough data to show how it might affect them or their fetus. The reason there isn’t enough data? Pregnant women were excluded from nearly all the vaccine’s clinical trials. According to a new report by medical experts, the problem is global. New vaccines are rarely designed with the specific needs of pregnant women in mind, leaving many women vulnerable to diseases which, a few months earlier, they might have been able to receive protection from. … There has historically been a hesitancy to include pregnant women in vaccine research because of the theoretical risk that active material in ‘live’ vaccines could be transmitted to the fetus. But vaccinating pregnant women should be a priority … For some pathogens, like influenza and malaria, pregnant women are at significantly higher risk of serious disease and death. And, of course, suffering an infection during pregnancy can potentially harm two lives. … Experts acknowledge the risk that may exist to a fetus should a pregnant woman receive a live vaccine. But that risk … must be put into context during an outbreak…” (12/18).