INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available, many women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are wondering what they should do. Currently in the United States, getting a COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant is a choice for mothers to make.
The CDC recommends pregnant women first consult their doctors, although it is not a requirement. There is limited data when it comes to the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers, however, experts with the CDC said mRNA vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk to these women.
According to the CDC, mRNA vaccines do not interact with genetic material DNA, because the mRNA does not enter the nucleus of the cell and the cells break apart the mRNA quickly. However, the CDC said potential risks of mRNA vaccines to the pregnant person and her fetus are unknown because these vaccines have not been studied in pregnant women.
Doctor Lana Dbeibo is an Infectious Disease Physician at IU Health and the Medical Director of Infection Prevention at IU Health Methodist Hospital. She has a six-month-old son who she is breastfeeding and received a COVID-19 vaccine last week.
“Even though pregnant women and breastfeeding women were not included in the studies, I look at this vaccine as a non-live vaccine. There is no COVID in that vaccine and it has no potential to cause the actual illness. So, if I am taking it, I am not putting myself or my family or my son at even one percent risk of getting COVID,” said Dr. Dbeibo.
For Dr. Dbeibo, science and research point to the vaccine being safer for expecting or breastfeeding mothers, than actually getting coronavirus.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) said that the COVID-19 vaccine should not be withheld from pregnant or breastfeeding women who meet the criteria for vaccination.
While neither the Pfizer or Moderna trials intentionally included pregnant women, CNN reports that almost two dozen volunteers became pregnant during the course of the Pfizer trial and there have been no adverse effects or reactions among these women.
Being both a physician and mother, Dr. Dbeibo said she thinks the vaccine is the safest option.
“I think when I look at the risk-benefit, it is always safer for me getting the vaccine rather than not,” said Dbeibo. “Excited that finally, I will be to provide an environment for my son that is safer than what he has lived through since he was born.”
Dr. Dbeibo also said pregnant and breastfeeding women are encouraged to get flu shots and DTaP vaccines and she considers the COVID-19 vaccine to be very similar. Still, she also recommends mothers have a discussion with their doctor prior to getting the COVID-19 vaccine.