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New data shows no adverse outcomes in pregnant women who get vaccinated

Many women who are pregnant are still hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 5:33 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Many women who are pregnant are still hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine. However, more research is emerging that suggests the vaccine is safe for expectant mothers.

Pregnant women were excluded from the initial clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccines so there was limited data showing how the vaccines could affect pregnant women early on.

“It was not out of concern that the vaccines were dangerous or harmful. It’s because the way these trials are structured, they always exclude pregnant women or anyone who isn’t the healthiest candidate,” Novant Health OB/GYN Dr. Colleen Cardella said.

Since then, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has kept a registry of pregnant women who have received the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Cordella says the agency has been tracking effects of the vaccine in the nearly 140,000 women who are on it.

Atrium Health’s Labor and Delivery Medical Director Dr. Lorene Temming says there are three main takeaways from the information gathered from that database. First, she says the vaccines are as effective in pregnant women as they are in everyone else. Second, pregnant women who get vaccinated are showing similar side effects as nonpregnant women. Third, there is no change in rates of adverse outcomes in maternal or fetal health.

“We have several thousand women who have closely been followed through the remainder of their pregnancy after they get vaccinated. And rates of things like miscarriage, stillbirth, preeclampsia, any adverse pregnancy outcome is not increase in those women. It occurs at similar rates as the baseline population so that is very reassuring,” Dr. Temming said.

Last week, two of the leading organizations representing Obstetrics and Gynecologists, The American College of OBGYN and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine, announced they fully support vaccinations in pregnant women.

But despite the supporting evidence and encouragement from physicians, Dr. Cardella says many of her patients are still hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“If we look at the data nationwide, it tells us only 22 percent of pregnant women are vaccinated in the U.S. and that’s concerning,” Dr. Cardella said.

Pregnancy is a risk factor for developing severe disease. Meaning, if a woman contracts COVID-19 she is at a higher risk of developing complications from the virus.

“Right here in Charlotte we’re having to do pre-term delivery to save mom,” Dr. Cardella explained. “Right now, COVID-19 is vaccine-preventable. And I can’t encourage enough that this vaccine is safe.”

Additionally, doctors say it is safe for women who are breastfeeding to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Lorene Temming is the Medical Director of Labor and Delivery at Atrium Health. She explains that the components of the vaccine are too large to pass through the placenta or into breast milk. However, research has shown that antibodies a woman develops from vaccination can be passed through the placenta and in breast milk.

“There have been some really great studies that show these antibodies, which are these helpful protein antibodies that fight against infection, have been found in mom’s milk up to six weeks after they get vaccinated,” Dr. Temming said. “So, we highly encourage vaccination for breastfeeding moms.”

Dr. Cardella adds that research has shown the earlier a woman gets the vaccine in her pregnancy, the higher the number of antibodies will be passed onto the baby.

“I often get asked if I would get vaccinated if I was pregnant,” Dr. Cardella said. “And I would without hesitation. All of my pregnant colleagues that I know have been vaccinated without hesitation.”

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