AshleyBattarbee Ashley Battarbee, M.D., MSCRIn partnership with other physicians across the country, faculty and clinicians from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) and Center for Women’s Reproductive Health (CWRH) conducted a study evaluating pregnant individuals’ attitudes toward COVID-19 illness and vaccination from Aug. 2020 to Dec. 2020 – just before the vaccine was available in the United States.

The study, titled “Attitudes toward COVID-19 illness and COVID-19 vaccination among pregnant women: a cross-sectional multicenter study during August-December 2020” surveyed a cross-section of pregnant people in the cities of Salt Lake City, New York, and Birmingham, Ala.

Participants were asked about their concerns related to COVID-19 illness and the likelihood of them choosing to be vaccinated.

“Overall, I think this study shows that there is a significant amount of vaccine hesitancy among pregnant people in the U.S., as less than half of participants stated that they would be willing to be vaccinated during pregnancy,” says Ashley N. Battarbee, M.D., MSCR, assistant professor in the Division of Maternal and Fetal Medicine. “Additionally, we found important racial/ethnic differences among vaccine acceptability. Non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic pregnant people were less willing to accept vaccination. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, motivation for both accepting and not accepting the vaccine was its effect on their unborn children. While protecting their fetus was the primary reason for accepting vaccination, concern about potential harm to their fetus was also the primary reason for vaccine hesitancy.”

Upon the initial development of the COVID-19 vaccine, hesitations and questions came as patients were unsure of the effects the vaccine could have on current or future fertility, as well as the fetus. However, as additional research has come to light, many women’s attitudes may have changed as more pregnant women have since been successfully vaccinated.

“The information suggests that there are specific considerations that must be taken into account when implementing COVID vaccination among pregnant people, namely the benefits and risks to unborn children,” says Battarbee. “It also demonstrates that special attention may be needed to address vaccine hesitancy in minority groups.”

Dr. Ashley Battarbee along with Akila Subramaniam, M.D., MPH, associate professor in the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Alan Tita, M.D., Ph.D., director of the CWRH and associate dean for Global and Women’s Health, and Mickey Parks, N.P., advanced practice provider for research with the CWRH, were among the group of medical professionals that launched the study 2020.

Click here to read the full study.