There’s new evidence that the COVID vaccine given to pregnant moms may protect their newborn baby from the disease.
A pregnant woman who received the COVID vaccine at 36 weeks gestation gave birth three weeks later, and her baby had antibodies against COVID-19 in the cord blood. This indicates that antibodies from the mother were transferred to the fetus through the placenta.
The woman is a frontline healthcare worker and received the Moderna vaccine.
The safety of the COVID vaccine specifically for pregnant women has been unknown because they have been excluded from the clinical trials to date. That is about to change.
Pfizer’s COVID Vaccine Trials
On Thursday, Pfizer announced that it had begun clinical trials in pregnant women who are between 24 and 34 weeks pregnant. They want to enroll 4,000 participants worldwide.
Getting trial subjects may prove challenging because there would be a 50% chance that they would receive a placebo. Women who get the placebo would get the actual vaccine after they gave birth.
Knowing that the vaccine may protect both them and their newborn may result in women being reluctant to take a chance that they wouldn’t get the vaccine if they participate in the Pfizer trial.
What We Know About the Vaccine in Pregnant Women
We are not entirely in the dark about pregnancy and the vaccine.
- Pregnant women have chosen to get vaccinated even without data from clinical trials, and there have been no problems reported.
- Pfizer and Moderna, the two companies making the approved vaccines, are monitoring women who are in the ongoing trials and became pregnant after receiving the vaccine.
- There is data from animal studies that have not shown harmful effects from the vaccine on pregnancy or development of the fetus.
- The CDC has developed a tool called v-safe to collect data about vaccine side effects. It is an app for smartphones
Vaccine studies look at safety and whether the vaccine is effective.
The American College of Obstetricians (ACOG) and Gynecologists issued a Practice Advisory stating that, “ACOG recommends that COVID-19 vaccines should not be withheld from pregnant individuals who meet criteria for vaccination based on ACIP-recommended priority groups.”
ACOG advises expectant mothers to talk to their healthcare provider to determine whether they should get the vaccine.
Pregnancy puts women at greater risk for developing a severe case of COVID-19 and dying from it. Expectant moms who get COVID also have a higher rate of pregnancy loss and giving birth prematurely. While most infants who had the virus had mild or no symptoms, there have been some cases where they became severely ill.
Flu vaccines have been recommended for pregnant mothers for years. Other vaccines like the Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, are approved during the third trimester. Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and pneumococcal vaccines are some other vaccines recommended for women with certain risk factors.
It is believed that COVID vaccines not only decrease the risk of contracting the virus but being vaccinated helps prevent serious illness in individuals who do get the disease.