Local doctors weigh in on CDC’s recommendation for pregnant women to get COVID-19 vaccine

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DES MOINES, Iowa – The CDC announced new guidance Wednesday, advising pregnant women to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Metro doctors understand why women who are expecting, nursing, or planning to get pregnant might still have their reservations with the vaccine. 

“Initially, patients in general were very leery of the vaccine and unsure about possible side effects, especially regarding their baby in pregnancy,” Dr. Nicole Davis, OBGYN at Mercyone, said. 

UnityPoint OBGYN Dr. Melinda Hansen points to the new data that shows there’s no heightened risk for mom or baby.

“Tens of thousands of women have now received the vaccine and there’s no evidence at this point that it’s caused birth defects or any adverse outcomes with pregnancy or fertility,” Dr. Hansen said.

The CDC cites the highly transmissible Delta variant for the updated guidance, something considered a threat for those who are expecting.

“Right now for pregnant women, the data shows only about 22% of them have received one or both vaccine doses,” Dr. Hansen said. “And we know pregnant women are more likely to get any illness because their immune system is suppressed. So although most pregnant women who get COVID won’t get terribly sick, some will. It’s really safer to have the vaccine and hopefully not get really sick with COVID, then the potential risks of the vaccine which at this point really appear not to be there.”

Dr. Hansen has seen what COVID-19 can do to her unvaccinated patients, and hopes the new guidance gives reassurance.

“We have seen pregnant women who get sicker with COVID,” Dr. Hansen said. “Again, it’s not impossible to get COVID when you’re vaccinated. It’s not impossible to get sick with COVID when you’re vaccinated. But just like wearing a mask, vaccines are another tool to help prevent adverse effects for you and for the baby.” 

Both doctors pointed to the few studies that show if women get the vaccine during pregnancy, some of those antibodies do get passed to the baby. While there’s still not enough research to show if that protects babies from getting COVID, they say it’s a potential benefit.

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