AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - When it comes to who should get the COVID-19 vaccine, pregnant women fall under a group with very little medical guidance.
For years, pregnant and lactating women have not been included in clinical trials, including the ones for COVID-19.
This means there is no data available for how they will react to the approved Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.
“We’ve had to live in a world of unknowns, and when you are living in that world, what you do is make educated guesses based on pharmacodynamics and other viruses that are very similar to the one we are seeing,” said Dr. Teresa Baker, co-director of the InfantRisk Center at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center “And that is what we are basing a very educated and thoughtful decision to recommend this vaccine to all pregnancy and breastfeeding moms.”
Medical associations including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists along with the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine have recommended the vaccine based on the MRNA technology used.
Since MRNA vaccines do not contain the live virus and don’t interact with genetic material, experts believe it is unlikely to pose a risk.
The vaccine is also what doctors consider unstable, which means it will not leave the injection location.
This makes experts almost certain the vaccine will not get near the fetus. Although if it does, the fetus would be okay and may even gain some immunity.
“When we look at the risk vs benefit ratio, we think the risk is quite low and the benefit is enormous,” said Dr. Thomas Hale, executive director of the InfantRisk Center at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
However, if you are pregnant and thinking about getting vaccinated, they also recommend you speak with a health care professional since each case could vary.
“If a mother is really in that high-risk category, she is the one that probably needs to be immunized for sure because this could be the difference between life and death in these mothers alone. So, it is all risk benefit ratio,” said Hale
Although both doctors say this is a very personal decision, it is important to note pregnancy does put you at risk for viruses, when considering the risk benefit ratio.
“Pregnancy puts a woman at an immunosuppressed baseline. So by definition, a pregnant woman is immunosuppressed and that brings in risk of viral infection and things like that,” said Baker
Dr. Hale adds that although there is no federal guidance or data for when it is best pregnant women get the vaccine, it is usually safer to wait until after the first trimester or even up to 6 months before getting any medication or vaccine.
Currently, pregnant women are in Phase1B of the Distribution Plan under the Texas Department of State and Health Services.