Merrion Fertility Clinic and COVID-19
Firstly, we would like to acknowledge the distress that has been caused to so many fertility patients during the pandemic and assure you that we are taking every step to have you receive your treatment as quickly and safely as possible.
COVID-19 links to pregnancy problems under investigation
A small number of stillbirths, potentially associated with a condition called ‘COVID Placentitis’ in mothers who recently had COVID-19, are being scientifically investigated.
Women should be reassured that the vast majority of women who have COVID-19 during pregnancy show mild symptoms and will go on to deliver healthy babies. Large-scale surveillance data in the U.K. has not shown higher incidence of stillbirth.
Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should continue to observe the recommended hand hygiene and social distancing precautions. Pregnant women within the priority groups can get vaccinated from 14 weeks gestation. Women within the priority groups who are planning pregnancy should ideally receive the vaccine before embarking on pregnancy or fertility treatment. Women can safely commence fertility treatment within a few days of receiving their second dose of the vaccine.
Since vaccines were approved for use in December, several international bodies have given opinions regarding this topic and some of this advice has been conflicting. The consensus at present seems to be that, while the evidence is generally reassuring, there are many unanswered questions about COVID-19 and the effects of both the virus and the vaccine on early pregnancy and that, ultimately, patients should be given the available information and encouraged to choose what they feel is best for their own particular situation.
On February 8th, the British Fertility Society and Association of Reproductive Clinical Scientists released a FAQ document regarding Covid-19 vaccines and fertility. These guidelines indicate that there is no evidence, and no theoretical reason, that any of the vaccines can affect the fertility of women or men.
It is recommended that the vaccine should not be given in early pregnancy (first 13 weeks), but there is no evidence that it is necessary to delay trying to conceive or having fertility treatment post vaccination. However, it would seem reasonable to consider deferring conception or treatment until you have completed the full course, in view of the risk of side effects such as fever in the 48 hours following the vaccine, especially the second dose.
The Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, together with the National Immunisation Advisory Committee, previously released an Information Leaflet to help guide women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and their doctors about the COVID-19 vaccine.
We will continue to monitor events and to update our advice as further information becomes available.
Precautionary measures at Merrion Fertility Clinic
The following are some of the many measures Merrion Fertility Clinic has put in place for the safety of our patients, employees and members of the general public. These are being constantly reviewed as the course of the pandemic changes and as the vaccine gets closer:
Since re-opening in May, we have taken various steps to reduce the footfall in the clinic. We only bring patients into the clinic where absolutely necessary and unfortunately this means that partners cannot attend for some procedures. We apologise for any upset caused by this. We stagger appointments and request patients not to arrive early. We have been very successfully conducting Doctor and Nurse consults via video link since March.
As soon as the pandemic began, we ensured that all staff were set up to work from home. This involved close partnership with our IT providers, as network security and data confidentiality is of the utmost importance to the clinic. Many of our staff need to be on premises to carry out their roles, but we continue to facilitate staff to work from home as much as possible.
All patients and visitors to our clinic are required to wear face masks. Our staff wear PPE at all times when interacting with patients. There are numerous hand sanitiser dispensers throughout the building.
When interacting with each other, our staff must either be wearing face masks and maintain social distancing. Every office is equipped with disinfectant spray, tissues and hand sanitiser. Each office has a set quota of staff that can be present at any one time.
We have always had rigorous cleaning standards but, since the clinic re-opened, we have employed a cleaner for additional hours each day to disinfect all areas that can be touched throughout the clinic.
Everyone who enters and leaves our premises is recorded for contact tracing purposes.
Our nurses run though questions with patients over the phone, including if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, if they are experiencing symptoms, if they have been in contact with a confirmed case or if they have travelled outside the country.
Our staff must also complete the questionnaire on a regular basis and must report any symptoms immediately.
We are COVID testing some patients and staff, if we feel this is clinically indicated.
Because the clinic was closed on March 17th and we only re-commenced our main fertility treatments on May 25th, there has been quite a considerable backlog of patients. This has caused some frustration, for which we apologise. In addition, there are also delays to some surgical procedures in hospitals which are beyond our control. We are doing our very best to ensure our patients receive their treatment as quickly as possible.
If you have any concerns you would like to clarify, please contact us on email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (01) 663 5000.