Donald School Journal of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology

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VOLUME 17 , ISSUE 1 ( January-March, 2023 ) > List of Articles


Ethical Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic in Perinatal Medicine

Amos Grünebaum, Joachim Dudenhausen, Frank A Chervenak

Keywords : Coronavirus disease 2019 vaccine, Maternal morbidity, Maternal mortality, Neonatal morbidity, Neonatal mortality, Patient rights, Preterm birth, Therapeutic nihilism, Vaccine counseling, Vaccine recommendations

Citation Information : Grünebaum A, Dudenhausen J, Chervenak FA. Ethical Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic in Perinatal Medicine. Donald School J Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol 2023; 17 (1):60-66.

DOI: 10.5005/jp-journals-10009-1957

License: CC BY-NC 4.0

Published Online: 14-04-2023

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 2023; The Author(s).


The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in our lifetime, especially in perinatology. The gold standard is to strongly recommend COVID-19 vaccinations to those trying to get pregnant, to those who are pregnant, and to those who are postpartum. When the benefits of vaccines far outweigh the risks, it is unethical to disseminate wrong information and discourage patients from becoming vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters prevent severe diseases and adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes. A pregnant patient's vaccination also protects the newborn infant because maternal antibodies protect the fetus and newborn. COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters in pregnancy are safe for the pregnant patient and her fetus. The three root causes of physician hesitancy—misapplication of therapeutic nihilism, misapplication of shared decision-making, and misapplication of respect for autonomy should not be ignored and need to be addressed. It is important that we heed Brent 's insightful recommendations. Doing nothing with respect to vaccination is not an option, whether it applies to COVID-19 vaccines or to future pandemics. Physician hesitation is not an option. When there is sufficient evidence of vaccine safety and effectiveness without documented risks, vaccine recommendations before, during, and after pregnancy should be explicitly made to prevent maternal, fetal, and neonatal morbidity and mortality.

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