Pregnant women getting mixed messages about COVID-19 vaccine; some physicians give green light

Texas

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Pregnant women have been receiving mixed messages about whether or not they should get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new guidance, and the Texas Department of State Health Services is including pregnant women in phase 1B of its vaccine distribution plan.

Many doctors first advised expecting mothers against the vaccine weeks ago, because pregnant women were left out of the trials.

Now, with the green light coming from some experts, it’s left pregnant moms like Schae Burley confused.

“You just get so many mixed messages,” Burley said, expecting her second son in May.

“I’m not one of those people that’s opposed to it. But when you consider doing something that’s brand new, while it affects two lives, that makes it just, you know, that much harder of a decision,” Burley explained.

Dr. Teresa Baker with Texas Tech Physicians explained the recent change in approval coming from some doctors across the state.

“The Society of maternal-fetal medicine specialist came out first, and they said, ‘yes, it is recommended in pregnant women, because the risk of the virus outweighs any risk that the vaccine might cause in a pregnancy,'” Baker said.

“Then shortly thereafter, the American College of OB-GYN did the same thing and recommended it both in breastfeeding and pregnant women, simply because the risk-benefit ratio is so much greater and those that actually get the virus,” Baker continued.

Baker and some other doctors in Texas explain pregnant women who want the vaccine should get it with consultation from their physician first.

The change is not just because the risks associated with the virus are so much higher than the risks of the vaccine’s effects. We’ve also learned more about the vaccine itself, an mRNA vaccine.

“The vaccines that we worry about in pregnancy are the live virus vaccines. Neither of these vaccines that are available, are live viruses. So we really do believe that they’re safe,” Baker explained.

The CDC’s new guidance is similar, stating in part:

“While studies have not yet been done, based on how mRNA vaccines work, experts believe they are unlikely to pose a risk for people who are pregnant. mRNA vaccines do not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19 and therefore cannot give someone COVID-19. Additionally, mRNA vaccines do not interact with genetic material DNA because the mRNA does not enter the nucleus of the cell. Cells break apart the mRNA quickly.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The new directions are also based on how pregnant women have reacted to other similar vaccines in the past.

“Oftentimes, we don’t have the actual drug that we’re talking about. But we can look at the molecular structure of the drug, the weight of the drug, what other drugs like it have done in the past and make educated and decisions based on you know, history,” Baker said.

Other doctors are still recommending their patients wait until there is more data specifically on how the vaccine effects pregnant women.

Baker and the CDC both say women should consult their physician before making a decision.

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