Nigeria: Include Pregnant Women in Vaccine Trials, SOGON Tells Researchers

1 October 2020

The Society of Gynaecologists and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON) has called on researchers to include pregnant women in their clinical trials for vaccines, as their exclusion leads to shortfall in data about how they respond to vials.

Speaking during a webinar it held in partnership with Sanofi on 'Antenatal Immunisation and its Role in Reduced Infant Mortality', the Nigeria Country Director for International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC), Chizoba Wonodi said pregnant women have unmet needs when it comes to vaccines, adding that efforts should be made to develop vaccines specifically targeted for pregnant women to protect them and their offspring from disease outbreaks.

She said: "The problem is that pregnant women are often left behind when it comes to vaccines, unfortunately, they are one of the most severely impacted during outbreaks. There is a lot of reticence to include pregnant women in research and this has led to a shortfall in data about how they respond to vaccines.

"It is a vicious cycle right that is perpetuated; researchers and health care providers tend to exclude pregnant women from trials, vaccinations, and tracking because fears about unknown fetal harms result in denial of access to vaccines."

An Associate Professor/Honorary Consultant, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Lagos State University College of Medicine, Gbadegesin Abidoye, said there were safe and effective vaccines that are available and have been used for more than 60 years while speaking on the topic, 'Influenza Vaccination In pregnancy'

"There are so many causes of infant mortality; mostly preventable infectious diseases are responsible for significant maternal neonatal and young infant morbidity and mortality. This is a change in the immune response of pregnant women to allow a fetus to stay for the period it is going to stay in the womb."

Similarly, the Chief Consultant, Paediatrician and Vaccinologist, Department of Paediatrics /ICHUNTH, Beckie Tagbo, while speaking on the topic 'Double-Edged Benefits of Maternal Influenza Vaccination in Pregnancy: The Role of The Obstetrician said influenza was a serious disease, especially for infants who are less than six months old.

"They have the complete loss of pediatric hospitalisation, more awareness should be created on influenza vaccination, as well as research of course, and raising a vaccine optic snowball into policy decisions.

"Vaccination is one of the best public health interventions, influenza has similar risk factors with COVID-19 and co-infection is possible. We can reduce maternal and infant mortality by vaccinating everyone indeed, we vaccinate the high-risk groups against the background, which care is a continuum and it reduces complications in the future," Tagbo said.

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