Pregnant Women Should Not Receive Ebola Vaccination, Yet

Ebola vaccine candidate rVSV-ZEBOV has shown to be highly protective against Ebola virus infection

african women and thier children

In the latest vaccine news regarding the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the World Health Organization's (WHO's) vaccine advisory group said ‘it is not recommending Ebola vaccination for pregnant women.’ 

While the investigational vaccine called rVSV-ZEBOV has shown to be highly protective against Ebola virus infection, the WHO says there is not enough valid research to risk the health of pregnant women nor their future child.   

During a telebriefing, Joachim Hombach, Ph.D., a Senior Adviser in the Department of Immunisation, Vaccines, and Biologicals, said ‘the risk-benefit analysis suggests that risk of contracting Ebola is very low for nonvaccinated people, including pregnant women.’ 

Moreover, Dr. Hombach said ‘that there's not enough evidence for the WHO to make a final vaccination conclusion.’ 

“Therefore, we propose to put a question mark, not only to the longevity of the immune response but also to the immediate vaccine efficacy.” 

Previously, during March 2018, the Lancet published research that said, “Given the possibility of a lower vaccine efficacy than reported, spreading the news of perfect vaccine efficacy for the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine could have fatal consequences in a future outbreak if vaccinated individuals neglect strict security measures because they think they are fully protected.” 

As of June 18, 2018, 36 completed trials, seven active and not recruiting, and seven recruiting Ebola vaccine studies are registered on ClinicalTrials.gov. 

The WHO advisors said there is another Ebola vaccine candidate option, which combines a priming dose of the adenovirus-vectored Ad26.ZEBOV vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson and a booster dose of MVA-BN-Filo from Bavarian Nordic.  

The multivalent strain, MVA-BN Filo, contains the glycoprotein of Ebola Zaire, Ebola Sudan, and Marburg. This construct is designed to provide protection from the 3 most common strains of viral hemorrhagic fevers. 

Recommended:

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine regimen are genetically modified so they can't replicate, which might provide an option that health officials would be more comfortable recommending for pregnant women, said these WHO officials. 

In the United States, the Institute of Medicine, the Community Preventive Services Task Force, and other public health entities have called for the development of innovative programs to incorporate adult vaccination into routine clinical practice. 

Obstetrician-gynecologists are well suited to serve as vaccinators of women in general and more specifically pregnant women. 

Pregnant women are at risk for vaccine-preventable disease-related morbidity and mortality and adverse pregnancy outcomes, including congenital anomalies, spontaneous abortion, preterm birth, and low birth weight. 

In addition to providing direct maternal benefit, vaccination during pregnancy likely provides direct fetal and neonatal benefit through passive immunity.

This article, 'Vaccinations for Pregnant Women​​​​​​​' reviews:

  • types of vaccines;
  • vaccines specifically recommended during pregnancy and postpartum;
  • vaccines recommended during pregnancy and postpartum based on risk factors and special circumstances;
  • vaccines currently under research and development for licensure for maternal-fetal immunization; and,
  • barriers to maternal immunization and available patient and health care provider resources.