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Women the world over need better access to life-saving vaccines

Women, especially pregnant women, are frequently excluded from immunisation programmes. The reasoning is often flawed—and the consequences can be fatal

By Jessica Abrahams  

Photo: An Ebola outbreak has claimed 300 lives in the Congo. A new life-saving vaccine has been delivered to 56,000 people in the worst-affected areas, but pregnant and breastfeeding women are excluded from the programme Fiston Mahamba/Zuma Press/PA Images

Imagine you are living in the middle of a deadly disease outbreak. The health authorities rapidly implement a vaccination programme to immunise those most at risk of exposure to the virus. You line up with others from your neighbourhood, but when your turn comes there is a problem: you are pregnant, and the vaccine hasn’t been tested for these circumstances. You are turned away.

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