An OB/GYN's perspective on COVID-19 vaccinations
Much has been written and argued about COVID-19, treatment options, safety, effectiveness and mandates.
Now throw in pregnancy and breast feeding.
It’s hard enough to make decisions for yourself. Now you’re being asked to make a decision for (at least) two.
I’m not a COVID expert. But I know who is. One of the advantages of having been a military physician was travelling around the world, and getting the opportunity to work with some of the sharpest minds in medicine.
One of those minds was my mentor during residency. He is a maternal-fetal medicine specialist and now the Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Harvard.
He, along with other physicians and scientists at Harvard, MIT, and Massachusetts General and Beth Israel Hospitals recently completed the largest study of its kind to date that showed the mRNA COVID vaccine (Moderna and Pfizer) to be highly effective in producing an immune response against the virus (and COVID variants of concern) in pregnant and lactating women.
Vaccination generated antibodies were also present in all umbilical cord and breast milk samples showing the transfer of antibodies from mother to fetus suggesting that vaccinating pregnant and lactating women likely protects infants from COVID-19 infection as well.
The antibodies produced from the vaccines were produced at significantly higher levels than the antibodies induced by natural infection.
There were no significant adverse effects or outcomes for those women or infants that participated in this study.
It’s well known that individuals who are pregnant are more likely to become severely ill with COVID-19, require hospitalization, intensive care and mechanical ventilation, and are at more risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes.
This study shows that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines confer protective immunity for pregnant and lactating women, in addition to increasing the immune response (and most likely immunity) for their infants.
The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), the Society of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) all support pregnant (in any trimester) and lactating women being offered the COVID-19 vaccination series.
So, what is one to do with this information?
I will tell you what I tell my patients when we are discussing treatment options. My job is to tell you what are reasonable, safe, good choices to consider. Your job is to decide which option is the best for you. Vaccination is one option.
I certainly wouldn’t expect you to make such a difficult decision about vaccination based on my writings.
I would ask that you speak to your health care provider if you have questions to help you make the best decision for you and your baby.
Take care, and stay healthy - Brian
- women's health