Montevideo, 30 January 2024. An annex to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Maternal and Neonatal Immunisation Field Guide has been published, with relevant information on COVID-19 vaccines.
Evidence has shown that pregnant women are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 (hospitalisation, admission to intensive care units, need for ventilatory support or death) than non-pregnant women.
SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy has also been associated with adverse outcomes such as preterm birth, low birth weight babies, stillbirth and admission to neonatal intensive care units.
In addition, the risk of postnatal transmission of SARS-CoV-2 infection from infected mothers or other caregivers to infants has been documented, and infants have a higher risk of hospitalisation than older children.
COVID-19 vaccines are safe when administered during pregnancy in all trimesters of gestation and the puerperium, and effectively protect pregnant women, mothers and their newborns.
PAHO recommends vaccination of pregnant women and mothers as a high priority group because of the risks associated with infection in this group.
This document presents information on COVID-19, the available vaccines and their immunogenicity, efficacy, safety and contraindications. Finally, some strategies for implementation in Latin America and the Caribbean are presented in order to increase immunisation coverage in this target population.
In particular, it is noted that communication strategies to promote COVID-19 immunisation in pregnant women and mothers should emphasise the evidence for the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and the benefits for mothers and newborns.
As in the original guidance, the target audience for this annex is managers and staff of maternal and child health services and immunisation programmes, health professionals in general, pregnant women and mothers, and the media.