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Pregnant or breastfeeding? CDC says to get vaccinated against COVID-19

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should get the COVID-19 vaccine and booster when eligible, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged in recently updated guidance.

The CDC’s recommendation echoes statements in support of vaccinations and booster shots from providers at Sanford Health as well as major midwifery organizations nationwide.

“It’s not just part of a recommendation encouraging everyone to get vaccinated,” said Christine Keup, MD, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist at the Sanford Southpointe Clinic in Fargo, North Dakota. “For pregnant women, there can be significant complications with COVID that make it even more important for them to get the vaccine.”

Vaccination protects mother and baby

Although there have been a few cases of menstrual changes, research has shown that this is a minor and temporary change. The knowledge gives patients and their providers an opportunity to discuss it as they prepare for their COVID-19 vaccination.

Also, vaccines do not cause birth defects. Immunizing mothers during pregnancy helps protect babies against disease when they are too young to be vaccinated.

A CDC study of 379 infants at 20 pediatric hospitals found that a two-dose vaccine in pregnant women was 61% effective in helping prevent hospitalization with COVID-19 for their babies under 6. month. The study also indicates that among 176 infants under 6 months hospitalized with COVID-19, 84% of them were born to mothers who were not vaccinated during pregnancy.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there, especially around vaccines and fertility,” Dr Keup said. “Vaccines do not affect fertility in any way. This misinformation makes it very important to have a connection with a provider you trust.

Since pregnant women were not initially part of vaccine trials, the CDC and other national organizations have advised people to consult with their providers and make an informed decision about COVID-19 shots. Since then, accumulated data shows that it is indeed safe for those who are pregnant, wishing to become pregnant or breastfeeding.

As a result, messages from the CDC and others have become more urgent.

“People’s initial concern about the safety of the vaccine during pregnancy was well founded,” said Erica Schipper, MD, obstetrician/gynecologist at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. “Since then, more than 139,000 pregnant women have received the vaccine and we have collected data showing no increase in adverse outcomes, no increase in adverse fetal or neonatal outcomes, and no increase in adverse maternal outcomes.”

Risks associated with COVID-19 infection

Studies have shown that there is no increased risk of miscarriage after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. A CDC analysis of current v-safe pregnancy registry data found no increased risk of miscarriage in nearly 2,500 pregnant women who received a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine before 20 weeks of pregnancy.

However, it is dangerous to be infected with COVID-19 during pregnancy. Studies have shown that there is an increased risk of miscarriage for those who contract COVID-19 because it can invade and destroy the placenta.

“When you think about the vaccine and how it works, there’s no reason it should be dangerous in pregnancy,” Dr. Schipper said. “There are certain vaccines that we don’t give during pregnancy because it’s a live virus vaccine or it poses a threat to the mother or the baby. This is simply not the case with this vaccine.

Fortunately, the CDC’s updated guidance gives providers another tool in the quest to present accurate information.

“It’s a tough conversation to have when people are reluctant,” Dr. Schipper said. “I hope that because they trust me to provide the best prenatal and intrapartum care possible, they will be convinced that I have their best interests at heart when I make a vaccine recommendation.”

The CDC continues to encourage all eligible people to get vaccinated and receive their booster shots as soon as possible to protect themselves, their families, loved ones, and communities.

The information in this story was accurate when published. As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, scientific understanding and guidance may have changed since the original publication date.

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Posted in Coronavirus, Fargo, Vaccinations, Pregnancy, Sioux Falls