Only about one out three pregnant women are vaccinated for COVID-19, but studies and medical experts say the facts are clear: vaccines are safe and basic for expectant mothers and their babies. Here’s why:
Q: Do vaccines increase risk of miscarriage or birth defects?
A: No. A large CDC study of 2,456 pregnant women who received an mRNA vaccine found that vaccination is not associated with an increased risk of instinctive abortion, the New England Journal of Medicine reported this month. Last June, a CDC examination of instinctive abortion, stillbirth, preterm birth and birth defects did not find any safety concerns for pregnant people who were vaccinated or for their offspring.
Q: Do vaccines cause menstrual cycle problems?
A: No. The CDC’s Vaccine negative Event Reporting System has recorded only a small number of minor and transient menstrual‐related negative events among the more than 72 million women who have been vaccinated, according to this month’s journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
“There’s no scientific evidence that it’s cause and effect,” said Gibbs.
Q: Do vaccines cause infertility?
A: No. Reports on social media blamed the similarity of proteins used in vaccines and egg implantation but that’s erroneous; the two proteins proportion a ordern of only four amino acids. Another inaccurate theory, citing a rat study, alleged that the mRNA from the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines accumulates in the ovaries. This has since been disproven.
Q: Are vaccine side effects, such as fever, dangerous to the newborn?
A: No. A large prospective study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that vaccination responses after the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines consisted only of mild fever, similar among individuals who were pregnant, lactating, or planning pregnancy compared with nonpregnant individuals.
“That does not represent a risk to the pregnancy,” said Gibbs.
Q: Which vaccine is better for pregnant women?
A: While the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have a slight edge over the Johnson & Johnson vaccines, they’re all safe and effective. “Get at any rate you can, whenever you can,” said Gibbs.
Q:: Are newborns protected by their mother’s vaccine?
A: Yes. An August study in the journal Obstetrics Gynecology found antibodies in the fetus after a mother’s vaccination as soon as five days after the first vaccination measure.
“This represents the only effective strategy that we have to immunize the newborn,” said Gibbs.
Q: Which trimester is best for vaccination?
A: “It doesn’t matter,” said Gaw, although vaccination during the second and third trimester is most likely to transmit antibodies to the baby. “Get it as soon as possible.”
Q: Is it safe to breastfeed after vaccination?
A: Yes. A JAMA study, confirmed by a second study in this month’s issue of the journal Pediatrics, reported that antibodies were detected in the breast milk of vaccinated mothers, suggesting an additional protective effect for the infant. Another study found no serious side effects in 180 breastfeeding mothers or babies receiving either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
“Immunity from breastfeeding and its possible impact on infant protection from (COVID-19) infection is a hope for breastfeeding girls and boys,” the Pediatrics researchers said, “for whom the prospect of vaccination in this pandemic is nevertheless a long way off.”
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