Healthy Body

Vaccines, surrogacy & who decides? Expert agency Q&A

Eloise Edington  |   29 Sep 2022


Vaccines, mandates and conflicting guidance. It’s a recipe for confusion in any pregnancy, but for those on a surrogacy journey, alignment is crucial. VitaNova Technologies are the cutting-edge startup helping to redefine surrogacy for all parties involved. We caught up with Danaka Porter, Chief Operating Officer at VitaNova Technologies, to talk vaccines, surrogacy and the decision-making process. 

What’s the data on vaccines, surrogacy and COVID-19?

Data from Google News shows that 68.3% of the USA population are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 (76.4% in the UK). More specifically, over 200,000 pregnant people had received the vaccine as of February 2022, in the USA. But with reports in The New York Times of cash bonuses for surrogates willing to get vaccinated – and significant numbers of women who aren’t – where does this leave agencies, surrogates and intended parents (IPs)? 

Over to Danaka, for a run-through of where vaccines, surrogacy and the world’s leading agencies are at right now. 

Are surrogates concerned about vaccination? 

Many of the people we’ve spoken to are either already vaccinated, or willing to be if the IPs request it. Being open, we see very few anti-vax applicants and any who’d prefer not to get a vaccine are clear and upfront about it.  

How do vaccine preferences impact the matching process? 

Agencies will handle this differently, depending on the community they’re working with. At VitaNova, if IPs put vaccine status/position as a requirement, we’ll only put forward potential gestational carriers or surrogates who match up. For us, it’s just another layer to the matching process – we use our own in-house algorithm, keeping things really segmented and straightforward. 

vitanova-vaccinations-surrogates

Are most surrogates willing to stay unvaccinated, if asked? 

This relates mainly to newer vaccines not yet on the official or recommended schedules. So carriers and surrogates may want to delay their COVID-19 vaccine, for example, until more research is available. 

If surrogates are already unvaccinated, they usually want to remain so but are often open to discussing the issue.

On the flip-side, do many IPs insist on vaccinations?  

Yes! Many of our intended parents require it, or opt to make it part of their requirements.

How do vaccination questions work on the application form?  

This is how our questions are currently structured for COVID-19, but we review and change our form regularly to flex with our community: 

  • Are you fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (with two or more doses of X,Y, Z vaccine)?

Applicants can answer yes or no, provide a list of dates and then state whether they’d be willing to have the vaccine, if the request came up. 

Again, we just put the information into our algorithm software for a seamless matching process. For agencies working without this, it could definitely be more complex. 

What’s the biggest concern intended parents have, around vaccinations?  

Protecting the fetus, and reducing risk factors during gestation. Taking Coronavirus as an example, we’re dealing primarily with a cardiovascular disease. It reduces oxygen flow, which is extremely dangerous for a fetus. So intended parents are really concerned about risk factors, and knowing their unborn baby is being given the best foundations ahead of birth.

What are the guidelines right now, for vaccinations in surrogacy?  

There really aren’t any. And this makes sense – it’s such a personal journey. Every surrogate, gestational carrier and intended parent has the right to figure out what’s best for them. 

At VitaNova, we see it as the agency’s job to focus on meeting needs, collecting the most relevant information and ensuring potential surrogates and gestational carriers, and IPs, are as informed as possible. 

Do surrogates have the right to get vaccinated, even if contracted not to do so?  

Technically, this would be a breach of contract. So in an extreme scenario, the surrogate or gestational carrier could be asked to terminate the pregnancy. 

Termination is another complex issue, which should always be covered in the contract. In most cases, being a surrogate or gestational carrier comes with requirements that are enforceable by law. This is why it’s so important for all parties to be super-clear on the contract they’re signing, taking professional advice where necessary. 

Can an intended parent take a surrogate to court, for getting vaccinated against their wishes?  

Potentially yes, if the requirement is written into the signed contract. This would put the surrogate or gestational carrier in breach. 

Do vaccination preferences impact costs for intended parents?  

Not really – in the US people can get Covid vaccines for free. Other vaccines may cost, though, and if a gestational carrier or surrogate is required to get a booster for Tetanus, for example, then IPs would need to cover that cost. Again, though, this can and should be outlined in the contract. Everyone should know what’s required, and who’s paying for what. 

Can an IP change the contract, after the journey has started?  

This does sometimes happen. An IP may want to add something to the contract, or make changes. In this case, they’ll need to have an addendum or amendment made – this includes a conversation with the gestational carrier or surrogate, reaching an agreement on the newly added terms. 

Which leads us to …

vitanova-vaccinations-surrogates-contract

Being totally clear on your contract 

This is where VitaNova started from, and everything we’re about – filling the knowledge gaps for potential surrogates, gestational carriers and egg donors with easy-to-access information. That, and helping people navigate contracts. 

We want people to be fully informed, to be empowered. Contracts can be tricky, and we’re doing all that we can to educate everyone involved on the process, both from a medical and legal standpoint.

Preparing to apply? Touch base today with the VitaNova Technologies team, for experienced care and support on your journey, from start to finish. 

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