Professor Sir Gregor Smith, Scotland's chief medical officer, advised on 7 January that fertility treatment be deferred for those women not fully vaccinated (see BioNews 1127). Professor Smith has written to all health boards in Scotland stating that the temporary deferral has now been lifted.
A Scottish government spokesperson confirmed: 'The chief medical officer wrote to all NHS Scotland health boards this afternoon to advise them that fertility treatment for unvaccinated patients should no longer be deferred, and treatment of patients can recommence.'
Fertility treatment for unvaccinated women was initially suspended due to the concerns over the 'increased levels of morbidity and risk of severe illness amongst unvaccinated pregnant women'. The decision attracted backlash from patients and politicians alike.
Clinicians have now been advised to fully inform patients planning pregnancy or fertility treatment about the risks associated with non-vaccination, the evidence regarding the safety of vaccines (see BioNews 1101 and 1095) and the evidence for vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic COVID-19 disease. Furthermore, unvaccinated fertility patients will need to sign an informed consent form acknowledging that they are aware of the risks prior to treatment.
The decision to allow unvaccinated women to resume fertility treatment in Scotland was made after data from Public Health Scotland showed that both COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations were stabilising in Scotland. Additionally, the available data on unvaccinated individuals has suggested that the risk of severe disease requiring hospital or critical care admission has reduced over the last four to six weeks.
Professor Smith concluded: 'I strongly support the recommendation that people get the vaccine when offered. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and there is no evidence to suggest that the COVID-19 vaccines will affect fertility in women or men.'