WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Through a slew of misinformation and still some unknowns, women who are pregnant or want to be someday are a hard demographic for health care workers to reach when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine.
The vaccine has been here and available now for more than the length of a pregnancy.
“We’ve had women who have gone through pregnancy and deliver just fine,” United Regional OBGYN Jamaan Kenner, M.D. said. “We’ve had women who weren’t pregnant before who have gotten vaccinated and have gotten pregnant now without any issues.”
Kenner sees almost a 50/50 split when it comes to his patients and the vaccine. There’s then a small group who are still weighing the pros and cons.
“We know that pregnant women who contract COVID are at higher risk of needing ICU care or being intubated,” Kenner said. “It’s about 70% higher chance for pregnant women to get really sick.”
If you scroll social media, you will probably find articles and posts about the COVID-19 vaccine and infertility.
“We have no reason to believe that any vaccine is gonna cause any issues with fertility,” Kenner said.
Kenner said, in fact, not getting the vaccine can cause more issues with pregnancy.
“If you have a woman who is pregnant who gets COVID [at] 28, 29 weeks now we’re delivering a premature baby and that adds on more morbidity, that adds on more things,” Kenner said. “It seems like the consensus on delivery is once the mom is starting to require more and more oxygen support and so may that be 28, 29 weeks, it’s kind of a risk versus benefit for mom and baby.”
A risk versus benefit he had to weigh as well while in residency last year.
“The hospital that I was working at had the first patient in New Orleans that died and so I just remember that night, there were code blues back to back to back and it was scary and for me, I was just scared,” Kenner said. “Honestly I just needed to have some kind of protection.”
Besides protecting the mother from severe illness, the baby too gets its guard up against COVID-19.
“You build your antibody response, those antibodies can cross over the placenta and give the baby some protection as well,” Kenner said.
A tough decision for future moms, but one Kenner and other OBGYNs said is best for them and their little bundle of joy.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society of Maternal-Fetal Medicine recommend the vaccine for pregnant and lactating women and women who desire to be pregnant.
Antibodies have also been shown to pass through breast milk if a woman decides to wait until after the baby is born.
MSU held a Q&A on fertility and the COVID-19 vaccine with Dr. Keith Williamson from MSU, Dr. Kenner and Dr. Pruthvi Patel answering questions from MSU students. You can watch the Q&A in full, here.