Hospital accidentally injects 5 pregnant women with rabies vaccine

Science and Health

Five pregnant women at Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem who were supposed to get a routine “anti-D” vaccination were mistakenly given rabies shots. 

Anti-D prophylaxis involves giving anti-D immunoglobulin to prevent a woman from producing antibodies against rhesus-positive blood cells and so to prevent the development of HDN in an unborn baby. 

If sensitization occurs, the next time the woman is exposed to RhD- positive blood. her body will produce antibodies immediately. If she’s pregnant with an RhD-positive baby, the antibodies can lead to rhesus disease when they cross the placenta and start attacking the baby’s red blood cells.

What is anti-D vaccination?

Anti-D is needed only if an RhD-negative woman is pregnant with an Rh-positive baby. In about one in three pregnancies, the baby will be RhD negative and an anti-D injection would therefore not be necessary.

The hospital said that the vaccine that was given accidentally is safe to use and does not endanger the women or their fetuses. When the mistake was discovered, all five women were contacted immediately. The hospital management said that it conducted a thorough and comprehensive investigation following the incident, and lessons were learned to prevent the recurrence of such mistakes in the future. Management also reported the incident to the Health Ministry as required. 

Hadassah University Medical Center (credit: AVI HAYOUN)

Hadassah spokeswoman Hadar Elboim added that it was “a terrible mistake” but that the capsules from which the vaccines were made are “almost identical,” which led to the mistake.