I’ve received quite a few questions about whether pregnant women should receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The risk of death due to complications from COVID-19 is 70 percent higher in pregnant than in nonpregnant women.
A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzing about 400,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44 found that pregnant women with COVID-19 are more likely to be hospitalized and be admitted to the I.C.U., undergo invasive ventilation or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.
Infected expecting mothers are also at an increased risk for life-threatening blood clots. A recent study published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) showed both mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna in pregnant and lactating women produced a robust T-cell immune response and high levels of neutralizing antibodies, including activity against the recent variants from Britain and South Africa. Infants also receive protective antibodies from women who breastfeed.
Another study of the mRNA vaccines demonstrated that they did not damage the placenta during pregnancy. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine will not affect the fertility of women who are seeking to become pregnant, including in vitro fertilization. Pregnant women who are vaccinated have the same adverse effect rate as non-pregnant vaccinated women. Overall, the risk assessment strongly favors COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant women.
David Segarnick Ph.D. is senior vice president, Medical & Scientific Services, Evolution Health Group, Pearl River, N.Y., and assistant professor of pharmacology, physiology and neuroscience at Rutgers N.J. Medical School Newark. He lives in Upper Black Eddy.