Michigan Association of Health Plans

Why pregnant women should get their COVID-19 vaccine; a doctor explains

This story appeared in Yahoo! News. Read more here

Pregnant women are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, meaning that catching the virus while pregnant or shortly after giving birth increases their chances of requiring hospitalization, being admitted to an intensive care unit, or being put on a ventilator.

Although multiple studies have shown that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for pregnant women and their babies, pregnant women have lagged behind other groups in getting vaccinated against the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, only 70% of pregnant women in the U.S. have completed their primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine before or during pregnancy.

What is most concerning for doctors and health officials is that many of those who are vaccinated have not received a booster dose. So far, only 15% of pregnant women have received the new bivalent booster shot since it became available three months ago.

Dr. Sarah Pachtman, a maternal fetal medicine physician who practices high-risk obstetrics at Northwell Health, the largest health care system in New York state, told Yahoo News that one of the main reasons pregnant women are hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine is because of inaccurate information being spread online.

“There is so much misinformation that’s disseminated all around the internet,” she said.

When the mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer and Moderna’s shots, first became available in late 2020, safety data in pregnancy was limited because pregnant women were not included in the clinical trials. This, however, is not unusual. When most vaccines are being developed, they are usually tested first in healthy adults. But the lack of initial safety data, Pachtman said, allowed for misinformation to spread quickly and create mistrust in the vaccine.

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