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Pregnant women added to coronavirus vaccine priority list in Israel after several hospitalizations

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Israel has included pregnant women among those getting priority access to COVID-19 vaccines, seeing no risk to them or their fetuses, a senior public health official said on Wednesday.

The decision followed the hospitalization this week of several pregnant women with COVID-19 complications amid surging coronavirus contagions. At least one was put on a ventilator and her baby delivered by Caesarean section, Israeli media said.

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Israel launched a vaccination drive on Dec. 19 with a focus on the elderly, those with risky medical conditions and some emergency workers. More than a quarter of its citizens have now received the Pfizer Inc. vaccine, health officials say.

“Today we are recommending that pregnant women, mainly those with high morbidity risk factors, get the vaccine,” Nachman Ash, the national coordinator on the pandemic, told public broadcaster Kan radio. “We have put them on the priority list.”

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He said that despite the absence of research into the vaccination of pregnant women, “when looking at the biological logic, we assess that there is no risk to the pregnancy, no risk to the fetus.”

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A Pfizer spokeswoman said use of the vaccine on pregnant women is “a health regulatory organization’s decision.”

The European drug regulator last month said the Pfizer vaccine, developed with German partner BioNTech, should be considered for pregnant women on a case-by-case basis.

(Writing by Dan Williams, Editing by William Maclean)