Summary of Ethics of Maternal Vaccination

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Ethics of Maternal Vaccination summary

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A new generation of maternal vaccines differs from traditional vaccines in one important respect: The vaccines primarily benefit the unborn child, rather than the mother who is being vaccinated. As four public health experts from Emory University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill write in the magazine Science, the new vaccines require medical professionals to adopt a new paradigm when it comes to promoting maternal vaccination. The article will engage public health professionals and anyone concerned with medical ethics.

About the Authors

A.T. Chamberlain, J.V. Lavery, A. White and S.B. Omer are public health experts at Emory University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, respectively. 


A new generation of maternal vaccines primarily benefit the unborn child, not the pregnant woman.

Vaccines administered to pregnant women usually seek to protect the health of both the mother and the child. Tetanus and hepatitis B vaccines, for example, can prevent perinatal transmission during birth. Influenza vaccines help protect the mother and the unborn baby from potential flu-related complications.

An increasing number of maternal vaccines, however, primarily benefit the unborn child rather than the mother. For instance, vaccines against pertussis help minimize infant infections...

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