Should Pregnant Women Get Vaccinated for COVID-19?
After a tragic year of mass panic, uncertainty and more fatalities than we can count, we finally see the light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a COVID-19 vaccine.
We know the vaccine is over 90% efficient and there are very few risks for healthy individuals who take it. However, there still are many unanswered questions – and one of them is regarding pregnant women.
Should they get vaccinated for COVID-19? Can it affect the baby or the evolution of the pregnancy in any way? Although trials are very limited right now, we do know some facts that can help you make the right decision if you’re in the same boat.
The risks you’re facing
Since there’s not enough research to determine the safety of a COVID-19 vaccine, we can start by analyzing the risks of you not getting one.
Specialists already know that pregnant ladies who contact the SARS-CoV-2 virus are more prone to complications such as severe symptoms, hospitalization or even get to the ICU. The illness can affect the functionality of vital organs such as the lungs and might increase the overall risk of premature birth.
Now, the COVID-19 vaccine is a messenger RNA vaccine – a category known to be safe for pregnant women.
Dr. Henry Bernstein, pediatrician at Northwell Health’s Cohen Children’s Medical center, explains that mRNA vaccines are broken down and degraded in the system very quickly. This means that they don’t affect the DNA, nor do they get to the nucleus of our cells.
Dr. Christian Pettker, high-risk pregnancy specialist at Yale Medicine, adds that the vaccine is very unlikely to get through (or even reach) a future mother’s placenta. This means that the baby won’t be affected by the vaccine at all.
Furthermore, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) confirms the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine for both lactating and pregnant women. The organization also declares that, so far, there’s no evidence suggesting that the vaccine causes infertility, newborn harm or miscarriage.
Potential side effects
As with any other vaccine, the one for COVID-19 may bring certain side effects. Some people reported mild fever and fatigue a few days after taking the shot; however, specialists confirm that this is just a normal response and actually a good sign that the immune system is processing the vaccine properly.
Other people may get a sore arm additionally to the symptoms listed above. Dr. Lauren Demosthenes, senior medical director at Babyscripts, says that acetaminophen is usually recommended to ease these symptoms (although pregnant women must always ask their doctor before taking any medication).
The choice is all yours
No one can – or should – force you to get a vaccine, not just for COVID-19, but for any other condition as well.
Specialists highly recommend pregnant women to consider multiple factors before making a decision, such as:
- The infection rate in their community
- The number of people they come in contact with daily
- Underlying health problems (obesity, diabetes or other conditions)
By looking at all these variables, the most qualified person to help you decide what’s best for you and your baby is your obstetrician.
I’m going to insist on this last point a bit because I know many people who allow themselves to be influenced by their friends, relatives and even the internet: getting vaccinated can literally be a life-saving decision. No one should interfere with your right to decide what happens to your body (aside from a certified health specialist).
Yes, there’s still limited data on the impact of a COVID-19 vaccine on pregnant women. There’s also no evidence that it harms you or your baby. Regardless of what you choose, what matters most is to be at peace with your decision.
Even though we have a vaccine, it might take months until it becomes available for us too. Our posts below can help you stay safe and get through the pandemic easier:
- Tired of COVID-19? Here’s How to Deal with Pandemic Fatigue
- Best Quarantine Gadgets to Get You Through the Coronavirus Pandemic
- 5 Things Experts Do to Boost the Immune System