Pregnant? Medical experts urge getting COVID-19 vaccine

Picture showing group of pregnant women during fitness class

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (Kentucky News Connection) — Health professionals are concerned misinformation may be leading some people who are pregnant to choose not to get the COVID-vaccine, despite universal recommendations that they do so.

The Centers for Disease Control and PreventionWorld Health OrganizationAmerican Academy of PediatricsAmerican College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and other medical groups are all in agreement.

Dr. Jessica Branham, DO/OB-GYN at Appalachian Regional Healthcare, said she understands people may have anxiety around the safety of the vaccine. But she pointed out the research is strong that getting the shot can help ensure a healthy pregnancy, at a time when the uptick in COVID cases continues to strain Kentucky hospitals.

“We have tons and tons of good data showing that women who are pregnant, have received their COVID-19 vaccine, that they are not only doing well,” Branham reported. “It is actually showing protective effects for the newborn baby as well.”

Today, in a special legislative session, Gov. Andy Beshear and state lawmakers are considering extending the pandemic state of emergency until January.

They may also make decisions about the governor’s authority to require masks in indoor settings, provide flexibility for school districts, and use American Rescue Plan funds to support testing and vaccine distribution.

Caitlin Bottoms, a resident of Anderson County, said she found out she was pregnant about a week before considering getting the shot earlier this year. Bottoms recalled she waited until the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released its recommendation in late July, then spoke with her doctor and immediately scheduled an appointment.

“I’m very glad I got vaccinated,” Bottoms stated. “It’s definitely a relief for the rest of my pregnancy, knowing that I’m protected, but that my baby will have some protection as well when they arrive in November.”

Branham added research also shows women who receive COVID-19 mRNA vaccines generate an immune response against the coronavirus and pass protective antibodies on to their babies.

“And those babies are actually showing natural immunity to COVID, because the maternal antibodies are crossing the placenta,” Branham explained.

Studies of breastfeeding women have also indicated those who are vaccinated against COVID while breastfeeding pass protective antibodies to the baby through their breast milk. Antibodies against other infectious diseases, like the flu and pertussis, have previously been found in nursing parents who were vaccinated against those diseases.