It was late into her second trimester when Carrie Bush, 36, asked herself a question many expectant mothers have wondered: “Should I get the COVID vaccine?”
Focused on keeping her unborn baby and herself safe, the family nurse practitioner at Novant Health Primary Care - Gilead began asking questions. She had a candid conversation with Dr. Amelia Sutton, a Novant Health maternal-fetal medicine physician.
“Dr. Sutton just sat and talked to me about the risks of getting COVID versus my potential perceived risks with the vaccination. Her enthusiasm and reassurance it is safe gave me a lot of confidence,” Bush said.
She got the shot.
Pregnant women are encouraged to get vaccinated
The two leading organizations representing specialists in obstetric care, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM), also recommend that all pregnant women be vaccinated against COVID.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agrees, saying the vaccine is safe for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now or might become pregnant in the future.
While data shows that having COVID-19 puts pregnant people at increased risk of complications and even death, many pregnant women in the U.S. have not been vaccinated.
“We’ve seen that having COVID-19 while pregnant poses extraordinary risks to both the mother and the baby,” Sutton said. “Pregnant women are at a three-fold higher risk of developing severe disease. And with the delta variant surge, we are seeing a much higher rates of severe disease in pregnant women.”
Getting vaccinated is quick and easy.
‘He’s the happiest little kid’
After getting vaccinated while pregnant, Bush delivered a healthy baby boy March 26. Henry, younger brother to 4-year-old Griffin, is thriving.
“He’s the happiest little kid and just very loving. Developmentally, he is doing awesome. He started rolling over around three months, so he’s ready to move,” Bush said.
At a recent medical visit, testing determined that Henry has COVID-19 antibodies – clear evidence the COVID-19 vaccines can induce immunity and protect infants who are (currently) too young to receive it. It’s inspired the family nurse practitioner to encourage more people to get vaccinated.
“There’s so much misinformation out there. When I share that I got vaccinated while pregnant and Henry has antibodies, it gives them a peace of mind that I was willing to do it myself. I’m very confident in the vaccination and the protection it provides,” Bush said.
The facts about women and COVID-19 vaccines
Some hesitancy stems from the fact that pregnant women were not included in the original clinical trials. However, that’s not out of fear the COVID-19 vaccines would cause issues with pregnancy, Sutton explained. It’s that most initial clinical trials are designed to exclude anyone who has any potential complications.
“We have not seen any increased risk of adverse effects in pregnant women who have received the vaccine. So, there's no question that the vaccine should be offered and given during pregnancy,” Sutton said.
The belief that COVID vaccines can cause miscarriage or infertility is also to blame for low vaccination numbers among women. Data shows that is simply not true, said Novant Health ob-gyn Dr. Navin Bhojwani.
“It’s that level of safety as more data accumulates that makes us really comfortable in providing this guidance. It is safe to get the COVID vaccine at any time during your pregnancy and that’s what we recommend,” Bhojwani said.
Doctors also emphasize there is nothing in the vaccine that could possibly affect fertility.
Still not vaccinated? Here’s how.
People can still get vaccinated at one of four Novant Health COVID-19 vaccine locations across Charlotte and Winston-Salem. They accept both walk-ins and appointments.
Have an upcoming appointment with a Novant Health physician? Many primary adult and pediatric care clinics also offer COVID vaccines. Learn more here.