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What pregnant women need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine

The top health organizations have differing opinions
Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 9:32 AM EST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says pregnancy can elevate the risk for severe COVID-19 and death. If you’re pregnant, there’s a lot to consider when making the decision about whether or not to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Any pregnant person who wants to get vaccinated should be able to access the vaccine,” said Dr. Denise Jamieson of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Dr. Jamieson helped create the vaccine guidance for ACOG. The organization believes the benefits of the vaccine outweigh potential risks. It made that decision based on animal testing and limited information from pregnant women who’ve received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines so far.

Until now, the vaccines had not been tested on pregnant women. Pfizer announced last week that it’s starting a trial on expectant mothers.

“The data we do have are reassuring for pregnant women and the safety of themselves and of their babies,” said Jamieson.

But there are differing opinions. The World Health Organization initially advised against pregnant women getting the vaccine. It then changed course, saying it believes the Moderna vaccine is acceptable for pregnant women, but not Pfizer’s.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration are not explicitly addressing whether or not the vaccine is safe for pregnant women.

Dr. Margot Savoy from Temple University Health said she does not think there’s a one-size-fits-all recommendation.

“This is one of those times where you’re going to have to weigh risks and benefits,” Dr. Savoy said.

Savoy told us that pregnant women should talk to their doctor about their daily risk level, underlying health conditions, and their ability to quarantine.

“You have to make the decision that is best for you,” She said. “But you have to make the decision coming from an informed place.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci announced in mid-February that the U.S. has vaccinated about 20,000 pregnant women. He said there have been no red flags yet.

Experts recommend pregnant women utilize the CDC’s V-SAFE system once vaccinated. It will allow the CDC to continue tracking symptoms and collecting data to help with future vaccinations.

Multimedia Journalist Natalie Grim and Supervisor of Videography Timothy Knapp contributed to this report.

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