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The Danger of Not Getting Vaccinated Against COVID-19 During Pregnancy

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Pregnancy is a period of weakened immune state to prevent your body from attacking your baby, who has DNA that is foreign to you from the father. Pregnant individuals are much more susceptible to all types of viral infections because of that weakened immune state -- and that includes COVID-19.

Unvaccinated pregnant individuals are at increased risk of a severe COVID-19 infection -- including death.

Pregnant individuals get very sick, very fast and force us to make very difficult decisions about continuing a pregnancy versus delivering early. Unfortunately, we have had maternal deaths and pre-term deliveries and fetal deaths and things that can only be explained by COVID-19.

Scientific Research on Pregnancy and COVID-19 Vaccines

Data from tens of thousands of reporting individuals have shown that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective when administered during pregnancy. The same data have been equally reassuring when it comes to infants born to vaccinated individuals. Additionally, COVID-19 vaccines have no impact on fertility.

To date, the largest data set we have for pregnant individuals regarding the COVID vaccine is about 150,000 patients who were vaccinated at all different pregnancy stages. We haven’t seen any increased risk of any pregnancy complications, no increased risk of birth defects, pre-term deliveries, pregnancy losses -- no complications at all with pregnant individuals who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

On the other hand, we’re seeing all of those complications with women of all gestations who are diagnosed with COVID-19. We’re seeing pre-term deliveries, maternal and fetal death, abruption (a serious pregnancy complication in which the placenta detaches from the uterus) – all kinds of complications.

Misinformation on Fertility and COVID-19 Vaccines

Unfortunately, there had been some misinformation published that the COVID-19 vaccine causes infertility. But there’s no biologically plausible mechanism by which that can happen.

We are not seeing any problems with conception. We see patients who have been vaccinated while trying to conceive three months before conception, six months before conception. We’re not seeing any complications.

Individuals who are pregnant or those who are planning to become pregnant should feel confident in choosing to get vaccinated against COVID-19. With cases rising as a result of the Delta variant, the best way for pregnant individuals to protect themselves and their baby against the potential harm from COVID-19 infection is to get vaccinated.

COVID-19 Vaccines Protect You and Your Family

I tell patients who come in that I understand their fear. I understand their concern. It’s part of being a mom. I’m a mom myself. But the single best thing they can do, in my opinion, for the health and safety of their baby is to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Clinical leaders at University Hospitals believe that these vaccines, which were thoroughly vetted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are for the protection of each individual and the community against COVID-19. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all individuals who are pregnant or considering pregnancy to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

We are in the middle of another huge COVID-19 spike. This probably won’t be the last one. You have to protect yourself, your baby and the other children who you have at home. You do that by vaccination against COVID-19.

Ellie Ragsdale, MD, is Director, Fetal Intervention, at University Hospitals.

Related Links

Maternal care experts want the best outcomes for their patients, and that means both a healthy parent and a healthy baby. Data from tens of thousands of individuals have shown the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective when administered during pregnancy. The same data have been equally reassuring when it comes to infants born to vaccinated individuals. Moreover, COVID-19 vaccines have no impact on fertility. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy.

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