Experts Agree: COVID-19 Vaccination in Pregnancy is Safe and Effective

Pregnant woman getting vaccine

There have been many emotional stories of moms-to-be who have become severely ill from Covid-19, potentially impacting their pregnancies and unborn child.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC), while the overall risk of severe illness for pregnant women is low, pregnant women with COVID-19 are at higher risk of severe illness than non-pregnant women, and also face a higher risk of preterm birth or other adverse outcomes.

In short, the risks from contracting COVID-19 are far greater to mom and baby than any risk from the vaccine.

That is why the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM), the two leading organizations representing specialists in obstetric care, recommend that all pregnant individuals be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Dr. Jennifer Murzycki, Section Chief of the Pediatric Hospitalist Program at Lowell General, says she encourages all women who are expecting or trying to get pregnant to talk to their healthcare providers.

“We now have much more data on the virus and its impact during pregnancy, and fortunately COVID-19 is not associated with birth defects. However, pregnant women are more likely to become really ill from COVID-19 than non-pregnant women. This can cause premature delivery, which can affect the health of the infant long-term.”

The CDC reports that early data around pregnancy and the vaccine is reassuring. They have not found any safety concerns for women late in pregnancy who received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, and no increased risk of miscarriage among women vaccinated early in pregnancy (20 weeks or earlier).

Dr. Murzycki says it’s important for pregnant women to stay healthy so they can care for their newborn infant. If they are severely ill when it’s time to deliver their baby, they may be too sick to care for their newborn and may be separated.

Women with mild and moderate disease who follow increased precautions while caring for their newborn are at low risk of transmitting Coronavirus to their newborn in the days immediately after delivery.

Vaccination can also protect a newborn baby. Some small studies of women who received the vaccine have shown the presence of antibodies against Coronavirus in a mother’s breastmilk and newborn umbilical cord samples, passing them on to the baby and potentially offering added protection.

“While most newborns do very well, families should do everything possible to protect their newborn from exposure to infections in these first few weeks of life, and this includes getting the Coronavirus vaccine,” Murzycki said.

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