As Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher said, “Change is the only constant in life.”  With further research and more real-life experience, ATAGI and RANZCOG recently announced changes to the recommendations for Covid-19 vaccination in women who are trying to get pregnant or are pregnant as well as those breast-feeding.

The new recommendations are as follows.

  • Pregnant women should be routinely offered Pfizer mRNA vaccine (Comirnaty) at any stage of pregnancy
  • Women who are trying to become pregnant do not need to delay vaccination or avoid becoming pregnant after vaccination.

The recommendations are based on the following evidence.

  • The risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 is found to be significantly higher for pregnant women and their unborn baby, than the risk of complications from the mRNA vaccine
  • Global surveillance data have not identified any significant safety concerns with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines given at any stage of pregnancy, for pregnant women
  • Protection to the newborn through passive immunity is thought to be possible as there is evidence of antibodies in cord blood and breastmilk.

It is likely that you have been, or will be, asked your thoughts on this.

Whether you agree or disagree with these recommendations, you should be careful of where and with whom you express your personal opinion.

If a complaint or claim is made, the investigating body (AHPRA) will look at all the evidence including private social media use even where there is no identifiable link to you as a registered health practitioner.

Expressing personal opinions on social media requires careful judgment, ensuring that it is done in line with your professional obligations and relevant legislation.  The NMBA Code of Conduct for Midwives and Social Media Guidance are good places to start.  The NMBA Position Statement on nurses, midwives and vaccination and NMBA What you need to know about the Covid-19 vaccine rollout also provide excellent guidance on this topic.

In summary:

  • While you may hold personal beliefs about the efficacy or safety of some public health initiatives, you must make sure that any comments you make on social media are consistent with the codes, standards and guidelines of your profession
  • You must not contradict or counter public health campaigns or messaging
  • A privately practising midwife who makes comments, endorses or shares information which contradicts the best available scientific evidence may give legitimacy to false health-related information and breach their professional responsibilities
  • Take care when commenting, sharing or ‘liking’ such content if not supported by best available scientific evidence.

This message was reinforced in September 2020 when the Board released a statement reminding health care professionals of the appropriate use of social media with regards to all things Covid-19 related¹.

Before you post, even privately, or ‘like’ or ‘follow’ someone, stop, and think about how your online activity would be looked upon by your colleagues, the community or the Board.  If in doubt, you should discuss the matter with your peers or senior colleagues.

¹ AHPRA (September 2, 2020). Statement from Ahpra and the National Boards on the appropriate use of social media. Accessed via https://www.ahpra.gov.au/News/2020-09-01-Appropriate-use-of-social-media.aspx 

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