The rollouts for the COVID-19 vaccines have begun, and this means that pregnant women need to decide how they should proceed. Based on their own medical history and risk factors, pregnant women have to determine whether or not they should get the COVID-19 vaccine. Many people who receive the initial doses of the vaccine will be healthcare workers, but vaccine eligibility is currently expanding.
As stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnant women who contract COVID-19 have a greater chance of being admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). Pregnant women also face a higher risk of receiving mechanical ventilation, but it’s not guaranteed that this will happen. Ultimately, the risk of severe COVID-19 illness will depend on personal health.
COVID-19 And Pregnant Women
At the moment, we understand that COVID-19 is potentially dangerous for everyone. The risk of severe illness or death among pregnant women is actually very low, but it is higher when compared to people who are not pregnant and in the same age groups. If you contract COVID-19 as a pregnant women, it’s natural to worry about how the virus will affect the fetus or birth. According to research, having COVID-19 may increase the risk of premature birth, especially if the illness is severe. As of now, studies haven’t identified birth defects as a result of COVID-19. Transmission from infected mother to fetus is also possible, but it is a rare event.
Can Pregnant Women Get The COVID-19 Vaccine?
Clinical trials of both the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines excluded pregnant and lactating women. This is normal because vaccine trials don’t typically enroll pregnant or breastfeeding participants. Because of this lack of data, there is no way to firmly confirm the safety of the vaccine for pregnant or breastfeeding women. That being said, the CDC and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) say that the mRNA vaccines are thought to be safe for pregnant women.
Interestingly enough, the World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend that pregnant women receive the vaccine at this time. The reasoning is simply because the data is insufficient. It does, however, say that it may be wise for pregnant to receive the vaccine if the benefits outweigh the risk of high risk exposures. For instance, if a pregnant woman is a healthcare worker and she is at constant risk of exposure to severe COVID-19. Nonetheless, it’s still wise for pregnant healthcare workers to talk to practitioners prior to receiving the vaccine, should they have any concerns.
In the animal tests, the mRNA vaccines didn’t affect fertility or cause pregnancy issues. Obviously, this does not automatically translate to humans, but health experts do know that other types of vaccines are safe for use during pregnancy. If you are considering the vaccine, please note the following information:
- The mRNA vaccines do not contain particles of the virus.
- The body eliminates mRNA particles in the vaccine within hours or days after the initial dose. These particles, then, are unlikely to reach or cross the placenta.
- If a pregnant woman generates immunity from the vaccine, this can cross the placenta to help keep the baby safe after birth.
The Decision Is Yours To Make
Ultimately, pregnant women have to decide whether or not getting the vaccine is right for them. It’s also important to understand that underlying health conditions, in addition to pregnancy, can increase the risk of severe COVID-19 illness. If pregnant women have any questions or concerns, they should contact their OB-GYN for a recommendation. There will be a risk, regardless of whether you receive the vaccine or not. On the one hand, there is the risk of COVID-19, and on the other hand there are uncertain outcomes of the vaccination. No matter what the decision is, please make your own choice and do research.