Why pregnant women should get their COVID-19 vaccine; a doctor explains

According to CDC data, only 15% of pregnant women have received the new bivalent booster shot since it became available three months ago.

Pregnant women are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. This means that if you catch the virus during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth, you are more likely to need hospitalization, be admitted to an intensive care unit, or be put on a ventilator.

Although multiple studies have shown that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for pregnant women and their babies, pregnant women lag other groups in vaccinating against the virus. Only 70% of pregnant women in the United States completed their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before or during pregnancy, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Of greatest concern to doctors and health officials is that many who have been vaccinated do not receive boosters. So far, only 15% of pregnant women have received her new bivalent booster shot since it became available three months ago.

Dr. Sarah Pachtman, a maternal-fetal medicine physician who practices high-risk obstetrics at Northwell Health, New York State’s largest health care system, said one of the main reasons pregnant women are hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine is: One, he told Yahoo News. This is because inaccurate information is being spread online.

“There is so much misinformation circulating all over the internet,” she said.

When mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer’s and Moderna’s shot first became available in late 2020, pregnant women were not included in clinical trials, so safety data during pregnancy were limited. This is not uncommon. When most vaccines are being developed, they are usually tested first in healthy adults. , says Pachtman.

“There has been a very politically and socially driven debate about how quickly the vaccine was tested, how quickly it appeared, and the potential impact on vaccine safety,” Pacman said. “It was a platform for a new vaccine, so it was challenging…and just all the chatter and all the discussion in the background.” [was] It’s just very confusing. ”

Two years later, multiple large studies have demonstrated the vaccine’s safety in all trimesters of pregnancy, as well as in the preconception and postnatal periods. Leading organizations, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society of Maternal and Fetal Medicine, strongly recommend COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant women. However, reluctance to get vaccinated among pregnant women continues.

Pachtman said doctors should increase pregnant women’s trust in vaccines by explaining why it’s important for pregnant women to be vaccinated and the benefits vaccines offer to mothers and fetuses.

Why are pregnant women at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19?

Several studies have found that pregnant COVID-19 patients are at increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as premature birth and stillbirth, compared to pregnant women without COVID-19.

Pregnant women can also die from COVID-19. Pregnancy-related deaths have surged nearly 80% since 2018, with COVID-19 contributing to her quarter of the 1,178 maternal deaths reported last year, according to a new government report. did.

Dr. Packman explained that pregnancy causes many changes not only in the mother’s immune system, but also in the body of the pregnant person. are more susceptible to COVID-19.

“There are data from other viral and upper respiratory tract infections during pregnancy, and from COVID, suggesting that pregnant patients are generally at increased risk of severe and critical illness from respiratory viruses. We do,” said Pachtman.

Other doctors say SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can affect lungs and cardiovascular systems that are already strained during pregnancy. “As the uterus grows, there is less and less space for the lungs to enter. So pregnant women often feel short of breath, which affects lung function,” Science in 2020.

Pregnancy can also lead to other medical conditions such as gestational diabetes and high blood pressure, putting you at risk for COVID complications.

Why should pregnant women be vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19?

Pachtman said there are several reasons why women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should get the COVID-19 vaccine and the latest boosters. The first is that it is safe and effective. Second, she explained, it protects mothers and babies from serious illnesses.

“I always tell my patients, ‘Look, even if you had a vaccine that protected you, you could still be exposed to the virus, become colonized, and become infected.’ is protection against severe or critical illnesses.If your body is not healthy, you cannot conceive.The fetus lives in your womb.It is like a house: if the house falls, a healthy pregnancy. cannot continue.

“Even if you get the vaccine, you may still have a cough, fever, feel unwell, or feel aches, but you may need care in an intensive care unit or need a ventilator. The risk of premature birth and need for medication is greatly reduced,” she added.

Studies have also shown that pregnant women who receive the COVID-19 vaccine may pass protective antibodies to their fetuses. His one of these studies was published last month in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology MFM. Patchman said the study shows that mothers can do something to protect their babies in the first few months of life, who receive her COVID-19 vaccine until they are six months old. Not eligible.

“These mothers are giving antibodies to their babies through passive transfer from the placenta or breast milk,” she said.

Studies have shown that antibody levels in breast milk were “dramatically increased by boosters” and protected babies for at least 12 months.

At a press conference last week, Dr. Rochelle Wallenski, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommended that pregnant women be vaccinated against COVID-19, including getting vaccinated against influenza and receiving a bivalent vaccine. We mentioned that it is important to keep up to date. amplifier.

The number of COVID cases is currently rising in the United States, and hospital systems across the country are also suffering from overwhelming numbers of patients with RSV and flu infections.

“This increase in cases and hospitalizations is particularly concerning as we move into the winter months, when more people congregate indoors with less ventilation,” said Wallenski. He explained that while a person who has received the series is considered fully vaccinated, without a new bivalent booster, that person may not be fully protected this winter.

The shot, approved in September by the CDC, was developed to target the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants, as well as the original strain of the virus. Officials say boosters are essential to lower the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.

“I don’t want to get sick at all during pregnancy, so it’s a good idea to vaccinate my patients. Why would you want to risk a pregnancy even a little bit?” Patchman said.

As for when it’s a good time for a pregnant woman to get an injection, she said any time is fine.

“If you haven’t vaccinated yet, now is the perfect time to get one. If your booster is about to expire, now is the perfect time to get it.”

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