COVID-19 and Pregnancy
The current COVID-19 pandemic has raised concerns among patients who are pregnant. As women healthcare providers, our charge is to reassure our patients as well as provide guidance for the wellbeing of their developing fetuses.
We continue to remind and stress the importance of infection prevention measures such as hand washing, physical distancing, and wearing a mask. We also strongly recommend that pregnant women limit socializing with people outside of their household, which is in keeping with the Governor of Vermont’s current emergency orders. These measures work to keep the Mom safe and therefore protect the fetus.
Though it does not appear that pregnant women are at an increased risk of getting COVID-19, data does suggest that pregnant females who do contract COVID-19 are at a slightly increased risk of severe outcomes when compared to non-pregnant peers. This includes higher risk of needing care in the intensive care unit. Pregnant females with other conditions such as obesity and diabetes may have an even higher risk of severe illness due to COVID-19. Since pregnancy is a high-risk factor for COVID-19, the CDC has included pregnant females in the Phase 1c or Phase 3 vaccine rollout. Most pregnant women (90%) who do contract COVID-19 do not have significant adverse outcomes.
At Rutland Women’s Healthcare, we recommend that our pregnant and lactating patients receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to them. This recommendation is supported by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG).
Currently, there are two types of vaccines available from two manufacturers, Pfizer and Moderna. Both have been shown to be 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 illness after the second dose. And, like most vaccines, it takes a few days or weeks for a person to fully establish the immune response necessary to protect them against the virus. The expected side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine such as fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills and joint pain, are short-lived but normal response to the vaccine. It is a signal that the body is reacting by developing antibodies to protect against the virus. The vaccines themselves do not contain the live virus but rather mirror the virus to trigger the body’s immune response.
Based on the data we have reviewed from both the phase II and phase III clinical trials, we expect the vaccine is as safe and as effective for pregnant women as it is for non-pregnant woman. And, given the risk of COVID-19 exposure during this pandemic, and the increased risk to women who are pregnant, we recommend that pregnant women do whatever they can to protect themselves and their fetus from contracting COVID-19.
To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy, please visit the ACOG website or the CDC website. Please be sure to talk with your provider about your concerns and any special health considerations you may have.