Scotland delays fertility treatments for unvaccinated women

"I'm just in limbo," one woman who was scheduled to begin IVF said.

Updated: January 10, 2022 - 8:08pm

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The Scottish government on Friday announced that fertility treatments will be deferred for women who are not fully vaccinated due to "ongoing uncertainty" surrounding the COVID-19 variant omicron.

A woman can be considered not fully vaccinated if she has not received a booster, but those who are waiting to be eligible for the third shot are able to receive fertility treatments from the publicly-funded National Health Service

Jemma McDonald, 25, was due to start IVF after nearly five years of trying to have a baby, but she discovered shortly before Christmas that she was ineligible because she was unvaccinated, the BBC reports.

"I'm not anti-vaccine, I'm just in limbo," she told BBC Radio Scotland. "I was unsure of why or even when to get them [the vaccine]. I hadn't had a chance to speak to any doctors or nurses regarding this with fertility treatment."

She said she was confused about vaccine guidance during pregnancy. "At first they were saying if you're planning on being pregnant when the vaccines first came out it was advised not to get them. It all seems so quickly changed around," McDonald said.

Scottish Labour party spokeswoman Jackie Baillie criticized the Scottish government's decision. "For a lot of these women this is their chance to start a family, and to have that taken away from them just overnight seems utterly unfair and inhumane," she said.

"No attempt had been made" to understand each women's situation, Baillie told the BBC.

"Having spoken to some of these women, some of them have been vaccinated," she said. "They maybe missed the booster because they actually had Covid at the time, but this is the problem."

McDonald is not alone in her confusion. Baillie spoke with others who also said they were confused by vaccination guidance for pregnant women.

A spokesperson for the Scottish government responded: "We continue to review the evidence and will look to review this decision early this year."

Scotland delayed IVF treatments for all women in April 2020 during the early stages of the COVID-19 lockdown.