MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Now that the COVID-19 vaccine distribution is ramping up across the country, pregnant and breastfeeding women have many questions about the risks and benefits.
Despite being an ‘at risk’ population, pregnant women are not included in the early phases of the vaccination process in Alabama.
“I think it’s important to recognize that, you know, we’re still in the fairly nascent stages of vaccinating the general public. And it wouldn’t surprise me whatsoever that in the upcoming weeks, months, perhaps, that the prioritization of vaccine, particularly how were pregnant women fit actually gets revisited, both by the CDC as well as hopefully the Alabama Department of Public Health,” said Dr. Warner Huh, chair of UAB’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. " One of the concerns that we have is that you know, the women who are probably at higher risk while pregnant in terms of COVID-19, related infection and disease, are those women that have other comorbidities, maybe they have significant hypertension, or they have an issue with obesity. So in some ways, they would fall into that sort of category of patient.”
Huh says it is important for the public to understand that the state is still in the earliest phase of working out how to best roll out the vaccinations to the general public.
”It would not surprise me at all that this gets significantly revisited in the upcoming weeks and months.”
According to Dr. Huh, there’s no compelling evidence that the vaccine has a long-term effect on a woman’s fertility and women who are already pregnant have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. As for new mothers, he says the anti-bodies a mother’s body will create from the vaccine will more than likely be passed on to the baby while breast-feeding. So he recommends the vaccine for all child-bearing age women.
“When you look at the overall risk-benefit ratio between getting the vaccine and not getting the vaccine, I would say most women’s health care providers and obstetricians are recommending vaccination, mainly because the risk of getting sick and affecting both the mother and the fetus can be fairly significant.
Huh did say he thinks it’s important for the public to understand that there’s still a lot that we don’t know.
“There are ongoing studies looking at the pregnant population. But again, on balance, we think that the benefits greatly outweigh the risks.”
Huh understands this is a big decision for both the mother and the father of unborn babies and recommends getting as much information from your doctor as to make the most informed decision.