We understand that the reports you might see on the news every day about COVID-19 can feel overwhelming and sometimes confusing, especially as new variants emerge. While symptoms of the virus and safety guidelines have changed slightly over the past few months, one thing has not changed: experts agree that everyone should get vaccinated, including pregnant women and those who are trying to get pregnant.
To help you navigate what may seem like a never-ending flood of information and clear up any misconceptions, here’s what you need to know about COVID-19 and pregnancy.
The coronavirus pandemic is ongoing, and remains a serious health concern. In the United States, there have been nearly 50 million cases and 800,000 deaths since 2020. Among women who are pregnant, there have been 150,000 cases and 248 deaths. The vast majority of COVID-19 hospitalizations in 2021 were among the unvaccinated.
In study after study, vaccines are shown to be safe and highly effective at preventing COVID-19 infections and reducing the severity of symptoms in those who do get infected. The most recent data shows that 61% of the U.S. population and only 35% of pregnant women are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Only 27% of adults have received a vaccine booster dose.
COVID Vaccines and Pregnancy
COVID-19 vaccines continue to be highly recommended by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control for all women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or wish to become pregnant. Getting vaccinated prevents severe illness, hospitalizations and death.
COVID-19 booster doses are recommended for all adults, including pregnant women and those trying to get pregnant. The most recent studies suggest the booster dose increases neutralizing antibodies against the newest Omicron variant.
Those who received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines are eligible for a booster six months after their second dose. Those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may get a booster after two months. Some studies suggest that a Moderna or Pfizer booster could be effective in those who received the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine as well.
Experts agree that prevention of COVID-19 with vaccination is more effective than any COVID-19 treatment option currently available. And the benefits of getting a vaccine far outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy.
Women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant and are fully vaccinated can feel free to participate in regular activities. To maximize protection, however, experts recommend wearing a well-fitting mask indoors in public areas of possible high transmission.
The Pandemic and Fertility Treatment
Pregnancy is a risk factor for severe COVID-19 infection in both mothers and babies, especially for those who are not vaccinated. Expectant mothers who are vaccinated build antibodies against the virus that could protect their babies.
Because so many people remain unvaccinated, hospital admissions of severe COVID cases continues to rise. This puts a strain on an already short-staffed healthcare system, and means some non-essential, elective services like infertility treatments must be put on hold indefinitely. Delays in fertility care could mean the difference between success or failure in patients with diminished ovarian reserve.
Vaccines and boosters not only protect you and those you interact with, they are also are one of the best ways to prevent the virus from mutating and bringing about new and potentially more contagious variants. COVID-19 is a public health crisis, and the best way overcome this crisis is by getting everyone vaccinated.
Fertility and Endocrine Associates highly recommends that our patients get the vaccine or the appropriate booster dose as soon as possible, to ensure the best possible outcomes for you and your baby. For more information, call us at (502) 897-2144.