Information

Definition of “fully vaccinated” for access to NHS IVF treatment in Scotland: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002


Information requested

Information in the public domain suggests that on Christmas Eve 2021 women undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment were informed that unless they were “fully vaccinated” with a “COVID-19 vaccine" their IVF treatment would be terminated. As one Scottish YouTuber (and convicted hate crime joke teller) has commented this communication can be viewed as “Merry Christmas, you will never be a mother".

If the information in the public domain is correct then the “fully vaccinated" definition at the time this decision on IVF treatment was made may have been two doses of an experimental emergency use authorisation (EUA) genetic therapy (i.e. an adenovirus vector or nucleotide modified messenger ribose nucleic acid (mRNA) therapy). As the Scottish Government knows it has covered it's back in changing the definition of “fully vaccinated” within the interpretation of The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Requirements) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 2) Regulations 2021 7E (Interpretation of regulations 7A to 7D) that the Scottish Government had left the door open to the interpretation of three doses of the experimental genetic therapies known as "COVID-19 vaccines" as being "fully vaccinated".

The minister or ministers who have made the ruling on the changes to IVF treatment should reasonably be aware of the current Scottish still birth statistics (i.e. have access to NRS data that is not yet in the public domain) and the regulatory requirements for novel genetic treatments (e.g. carcinogenicity follow up studies and the duration of these studies for adenovirus vector vaccines).

As a Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA 2002) I want the following recorded information.

1.The number of doses of a “COVID-19 vaccine" that are required in order for a patient to receive IVF treatment in NHS Scotland.

2.The name or names of the minister(s) that made the ruling that treatment with “COVID-19 vaccines” was a prerequisite for IVF treatment in NHS Scotland.

Response

The recommendation to temporarily defer fertility treatment for unvaccinated patients was made on the grounds of safety and the four NHS Assisted Conception Units began contacting patients from 22 December 2021. This was in light of evidence of increased risks of morbidity and severe illness from COVID-19 in unvaccinated pregnant women associated with the Delta variant of the disease, the uncertainties about the impact of the Omicron variant, and the high and increasing level of virus incidence at the time. This recommendation followed clinical concerns raised by the lead Clinicians in the NHS Assisted Conception Units in Scotland and this overall approach is based on robust published evidence. The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Gregor Smith, explained the detail of the background to his recommendation in his letter to NHS Boards, which was published on 7 January 2022 and can be found here.

Women who have had their first and second COVID-19 vaccinations and who have had or (in the event that it is less than 3 months since their second dose) who are waiting for their booster dose should continue their treatment as normal, in line with advice.

The Chief Medical Officer’s recommendation is being reviewed alongside evidence of risk, as well as the prevailing levels of COVID-19, during February to determine when treatment of unvaccinated women can recommence, or whether a further deferral is necessary.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

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