Joint Statement: COVID-19 Health Measures
The Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) along with the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists (AAGL), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), American Urogynecologic Society (AUGS), Canadian Society for the Advancement of Gynecologic Excellence (CANSAGE), International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS), International Gynecologic Cancer Society (IGCS), Society of Family Planning (SFP), Society of Gynecologic Surgeons (SGS) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) release a unified statement supporting public health measures to combat COVID-19.
Our organizations support strategies that protect the health and well-being of our patients, health care professionals and our professional society members and staff. Ongoing public health measures such as distancing, masking, hand hygiene and appropriate personal protective equipment for health care personnel are critical in minimizing spread of existing COVID-19 infection and protecting health care providers around the globe. Vaccination is the key to prevention of new infections.
On Dec. 11, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in the United States. On Dec. 12, 2020, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) approved the recommendation to use this vaccine in the indicated population under FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization. We believe that the vaccine trials and the FDA and ACIP data evaluation process have been robust and transparent. In other countries across the world, regulatory bodies have also endorsed the vaccine and similar processes will be followed globally to evaluate each upcoming candidate vaccine. It is our collective opinion, after closely monitoring this situation, that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination far outweigh the risks. We endorse vaccination for all eligible health care workers, patients and our society at large, including populations who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 or complications from the disease, in consultation with their physicians or health care professionals.
It is especially important that certain eligible patient populations, including pregnant women, consult with their trusted physicians when considering whether to take the vaccine. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have urged that pregnant and lactating people be included in the vaccine trials and research; unfortunately, they were not.
While a conversation with a clinician may be helpful and is encouraged, it should not be required prior to vaccination as this may cause unnecessary barriers to access. We support additional data collection and research to continue to inform recommendations for these populations.
As vaccination becomes available, our organizations believe that both preventing the spread of existing COVID-19 infections and widespread vaccination are essential to control the pandemic and save lives.
It is incumbent upon health care professionals to familiarize themselves with existing trial data, including the unknowns and to inspire confidence in the vaccine among our patients and other health care professionals. Health care professionals should continue to support efforts to collect data necessary for evidence-based recommendations.