Vaccine Statement from IRH Doctors

Jan 14, 2022 Update:

Pregnant People With COVID-19 At Greater Risk For Severe Disease, Adverse Birth Outcomes, Especially Those Who Are Unvaccinated, Research Confirms

The New York Times (1/13, Rabin ) reports research published in Nature Medicine suggests that pregnant people with COVID-19 “were not only at greater risk of developing severe disease, but also” faced a greater risk of stillbirth or preterm birth. Investigators analyzed data from all people in Scotland “who were pregnant or became pregnant after March 1, 2020, through the end of October 2021,” tracking “144,546 pregnancies in 130,875 women during this period.”

MedPage Today (1/13, D’Ambrosio ) reports, “Of 4,950 confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections during pregnancy, 77.4% occurred” among unvaccinated patients, while “90.9% of the infections that required hospital admission and 98.1% that required critical care admission were in the unvaccinated.” In total, “2,364 infants were born to mothers with SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy; 11 were stillbirths and eight resulted in neonatal death,” while “the preterm birth rate was 16.6% among those that occurred within 28 days of a COVID-19 diagnosis.”

USA Today (1/13, Rodriguez ) and STAT (1/13, Gaffney) also report on the study.

For more than a year, the whole world has lived with the Covid pandemic. There has been no shortage of opinions and controversy regarding this disease. Here are the facts as physicians best know them:

  1. More than 800,000 Americans have died from this disease. In addition to deaths there are now many people with long term health conditions after surviving Covid including lung symptoms, neurologic disease and extreme fatigue.
  2. This death toll would have been much greater were it not for the decision to shut down hospitals for other medical treatments. Shutting down other treatments has caused a deterioration of care for many other health conditions including cardiac care, diabetes, and even cancer. This has resulted for the first time in a decrease in life expectancy for Americans by approximately one year.
  3. We now have highly effective and extremely safe vaccines. Eight billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide. The vaccines are more than 90% effective in preventing disease and almost 100% effective in preventing severe disease. Side effects are the same or better than most vaccines.

Should you get vaccinated?

If you are trying to get pregnant, it would be ideal to get vaccinated prior to conception. Covid vaccination has no impact on fertility! Covid infection during pregnancy can be extremely severe since during pregnancy your immune system is not as strong. We know of patients in Cincinnati who were severely ill in the ICU while pregnant.

Should you get vaccinated if you are pregnant now?

Unless you have severe medical conditions such as cancer or severe immune problems the answer is, “yes”. There are now studies with more than 30,000 patients documenting the safety of Covid vaccination during pregnancy. You can be immediately vaccinated, or if low risk, wait until after 12 weeks of pregnancy to get vaccinated. By 12 weeks the baby is fully developed and therefore risk of birth defects has mostly passed.

It is also important to note those who get Covid-19 in the first trimester are at higher risk of miscarriage especially when illness is severe. Therefore, it is even more important to get vaccinated to protect you and baby during pregnancy.

Should you get the booster?

Yes. ACOG recommends a booster for Moderna or Pfizer vaccines at least 6 months after the last dose for pregnant women. Those who have already received the J&J vaccine a booster is recommended 2 months after the last dose. Also, boosters will protect you against new variants such as Omicron.

Which vaccine is best?

For women less than 50 years of age, the Moderna or Pfizer are best. The J&J vaccine is best for women over 50 years of age or men of any age.

Does the vaccine effect fertility?

No. It is a myth that the Covid vaccines increase pregnancy loss or miscarriage. A lot of pregnant women have now received the vaccines and the data does not support a claim that fertility is affected. In fact, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine recommends people get a Covid vaccine even while getting fertility treatment.

Are there risks of vaccination?

Common side effects include soreness at the site of injection and sometimes a low-grade fever for a day. These can be treated with Tylenol, or if not pregnant, medications like Motrin. Severe reactions are rare. These include allergic reaction. The chance of severe reaction is remote and not greater than other vaccines you have already received like Rubella or Polio.

Have IRH doctors been vaccinated?

Yes. We were vaccinated at the earliest opportunity which was December 2020.

What is the bottom line?

There are many good reasons to get vaccinated. Protecting yourself, your family and friends is one reason. Ending the pandemic is yet another. It will also decrease the chance of having to cancel appointments during treatment. If enough people do not get vaccinated, Covid can infect the unvaccinated population and could mutate to a point that current vaccines would not be effective. We would all relive the nightmare again. If you are currently trying to get pregnant and get vaccinated, protective antibodies will cross the placenta and protect your baby. If that is not enough reason, if you are unvaccinated, you will likely be required to mask indoors for another year. IRH cares about you! Please let us know if you have other concerns about Covid vaccination.