Landefeld web0572Pictured above receiving her COVID vaccine, Dr. Dionne-Odom is Associate Professor of the UAB Division of Infectious Diseases, Associate Director of the UAB Center for Women’s Reproductive Health, and a member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine COVID-19 Task Force. 

Concern: The COVID-19 vaccine may not be safe for pregnant women. 
Response: Jodie Dionne-Odom, MD, MSPH  

How do I know that an mRNA vaccine is safe for me if I am pregnant, planning pregnancy, or breastfeeding?

Decision-making in pregnancy involves weighing the potential risks and benefits of vaccination against the potential risks of infection itself. Women who are pregnant, or may become so, are encouraged to discuss these concerns with a trusted health care provider. Here are a few considerations, along with up to date scientific information, about COVID19 and pregnancy.

COVID19 infection during pregnancy carries risk of serious illness.

Researchers have observed that pregnant women with COVID19 had higher rates of severe disease—requiring ICU admission—compared to non-pregnant women. Some pregnant women have existing medical conditions (diabetes, obesity, hypertension) that contribute to this risk. Because of this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists pregnancy as a high-risk medical condition for COVID19. Since there are persistently high rates of COVID19 in our community, the risk of exposure to COVID19 for women who are pregnant or planning pregnancy is high.

2) Currently available mRNA vaccines for COVID have the benefit of safety and effectiveness in women of reproductive age.

In clinical trials that enrolled tens of thousands of participants, mRNA vaccines were shown to be safe and effective in women and men of all ages. Although pregnant women were not included in the clinical trials, a small number of study participants became pregnant, and researchers are monitoring their health outcomes over time. Larger studies in pregnant women are now underway. National organizations for public health and women’s health support vaccination in women who are planning a pregnancy, pregnant or breastfeeding, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine and the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.

3) Several vaccinations are routinely recommended in pregnancy due to documented safety and effectiveness for women and their infants.

Routinely recommended vaccinations in pregnancy can have benefits for women and their infants since maternal antibodies can provide protection to their newborn that can last for months. Studies are underway to assess short- and long-term benefits, as well as potential risks, of COVID19 vaccination in pregnancy.

As always, stay tuned to #UABUnited and UAB Medicine for official updates on COVID safety and vaccination progress.

Note: This series is intended for those in our community who have reservations about getting “the shot.” These five articles from UAB Department of Medicine highlight a member of our DOM family, and how they have answered these commone concerns about COVID-19 vaccine for themselves and for their patients.