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Good Question: Can you get vaccinated if you’re pregnant?

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 7:48 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - In tonight’s Good Question, we’re asking about the COVID vaccine and is it safe for pregnant women?

It was unclear for a while because the initial vaccine trials didn’t include pregnant women but in the last few weeks, the CDC issued an urgent recommendation.

CDC director Rochelle Walensky says new data shows just how safe the vaccines are and it shows the risk of getting COVID while pregnant can be deadly.

But, many women are still hesitant. According to the CDC, only 31 percent of pregnant women are vaccinated.

So, we wanted to take some time tonight to explore what we know about the vaccine...and why doctors say it’s safe.

We spoke with Dr. Amelia Sutton from Novant Health.

Jamie: I’m just curious, is there one question that you get most often?

Sutton: Yes, the question is, is this safe for my pregnancy? And it’s understandable. Every mom is worried about what they put in their body when they’re pregnant, in particular, and if it’s going to cause complications. I try to reassure all of my patients that this is something that I strongly recommend, because I want to protect them and their baby and as a COVID infection is far riskier than anything else that we’re encountering in the world right now. And you know, just as a personal note, I am a new mother. I had a baby last year right before the vaccine was available and there was no question that I would have taken it myself had it been available during my pregnancy, so I wouldn’t recommend something to my patients to put in their bodies that I wouldn’t put in my own body.

Jamie: What do we know about pregnant women and vaccinations? Is it safe?

Sutton: It is safe. This vaccine has been administered to over 163,000 pregnant women now, and these are all being tracked by the CDC and other researchers have looked at it. If there are any increased adverse outcomes in women who have gotten the vaccine and we’re just not seeing any safety signals, that would concern us whatsoever and that’s in stark contrast to the increased risk of COVID infection during pregnancy.

Jamie: Are you seeing any effect with the pregnancy itself when the mom-to-be has taken the vaccine?

Sutton: Clinically we have not seen any increased rates and then in the reported literature we have not seen any increased risk outcomes can happen. There’s, you know, there’s a baseline risk of complications in every pregnancy, such as miscarriage, preeclampsia. And we’ve been tracking those rates and comparing women who’ve gotten the vaccine and those who have not, and we have not seen an increased risk in women who’ve gotten the back. And it just is not biologically plausible for the vaccine to cause those problems. In particular, the RNA vaccines are encapsulated in a large fat molecule that can’t even get across the placenta, so it would not even make sense for the vaccine to cause problems during pregnancy.

Jamie: What do we know about the immunity being passed down then to the baby?

Sutton: Yeah, that’s a great question, so we’ve been studying that. Actually, some of the researchers have been studying that across the country, and we’ve seen a really robust transfer of the antibodies to the baby that can persist for many months after birth, and so the placenta will transfer those antibodies most robustly in the third trimester. And the other way that the baby is protected is if Mom chooses to breastfeed, those antibodies can get into the breast milk and provide protection to the baby in that way as well. So the baby is really being protected in two ways through the placental passage of the antibodies and through the breast milk.

Jamie: Is there a certain time during a pregnancy that you should get vaccinated? A trimester that makes more sense.

Sutton: We are encouraging women to get vaccinated as soon as possible, regardless of the trimester, and it has been studied in all three trimesters, and again, we’re not seeing any increased risks. But we really urge women if they’re hesitant to get vaccinated, to make sure that they do so before the 3rd trimester when the risk of COVID infection is quite high. It’s the highest in the third trimester. Again, it’s because of the way that the lung Physiology changes.At that time.

Jamie: Well, I appreciate the information. Some great insight into this topic, which we know is top of mind for lots of women.

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