YOUR LIFE YOUR HEALTH

Is It Safe For Pregnant Women To Get The COVID-19 Vaccine?

Feb 19, 2021, 10:47 AM | Updated: 10:47 am

MILLVILLE, Utah — As COVID-19 vaccinations become more widely available, many pregnant women are wondering if it’s a safe option for them and their baby. One expecting mother in Cache Valley shares the process she followed to make her decision.

“See and this one says, “It’s a boy!” Sarah Fitzgerald said to her 2-year-old son as she showed him her ultrasound photos.

The Fitzgerald family is eager to welcome another little boy to their family on May 25. “So excited! Honestly, I wanted another little boy,” Sarah said. “I just wanted little buddies that could play with each other.”

Though the news was at first hard for 2-year-old Liam to understand, Sarah and her husband Adam Fitzgerald say he is starting to get more excited. “The more we talk about it and the more that he sees mom’s belly is getting bigger and everything, he’s getting really excited,” she described.

Two-year-old Liam Fitzgerald points to his mom, Sarah Fitzgerald’s belly as their family anticipates the arrival of another baby on May 25h. (Photo: KSL TV)

Sarah Fitzgerald works at Intermountain Healthcare’s Logan Regional Hospital. She was offered the COVID-19 vaccine last week.

“It was definitely one of the harder decisions I’ve had to make,” she explained.

“I had some blood pressure issues at the beginning of everything, which actually did factor into my decision about wanting to get the COVID vaccine,” Fitzgerald said. “That actually put me in the category of a high-risk pregnancy.”

After thorough research, weighing the pros and cons, and consulting with four different providers, Fitzgerald decided to get the vaccine.

“Ultimately, I decided the risk of me getting COVID was a lot higher than any adverse reaction I might have to the vaccine,” she said. “For me, I knew that it was probably just going to be the best decision and my husband and I talked about it.”

“My OB/GYN just said, ‘If you have the opportunity to take it, I would,'” Sarah Fitzgerald added. After seeing other pregnant women get the vaccine, she felt more comfortable moving forward.

Though two-year-old Liam Fitzgerald had a hard time understanding he will be getting a little brother soon, he is now becoming more excited. (Photo: KSL TV)

“After the first shot, I felt absolutely fine. I still have to get the second shot in a couple weeks,” she said. “Knowing that I have these antibodies that are building up in my body already has given me a ton of peace of mind.”

Intermountain Healthcare’s Dr. Sean Esplin, senior medical director for women’s health, says as people weigh their decision, pregnant women are at an increased risk for COVID-related complications. “There’s a little bit more urgency for a pregnant woman to protect herself,” he said.

While Esplin says that risk is still small (about 5%), he says it’s an important factor to consider.

“If you’re pregnant and you do get COVID, you’re at slightly higher risk of having a more severe course (of COVID during) the pregnancy — so a little higher chance of being admitted to the hospital or needing even to go to the intensive care unit,” he explained. “You’re at high risk of having a blood clot, you’re at high risk of having preterm delivery … we’ve seen more premature rupture of membranes, we’ve see more preterm birth.”

He encourages every pregnant woman to assess her personal risk of contracting COVID-19 or risk of having a severe case of COVID-19. “I think it’s right for every woman to talk to her midwife or their physician and kind of make a personal decision about what are the risks for them and what are the benefits,” Esplin said.

He says pregnant women who work in the public like teachers or health care workers or women with risk factors like asthma, diabetes, hypertension or other high-risk medical conditions should probably take the vaccine.

Esplin says about 30 pregnant women were included in the U.S. trials for COVID-19 inadvertently because they didn’t know they were pregnant at the time. He says pregnant women are typically not included in trials because it adds another variable and that can make it more difficult to separate out the results.

The pregnant women who were in the COIVD-19 vaccine trials didn’t have any unexpected side effects or problems.

While there still hasn’t been much research on this vaccine during pregnancy, Esplin says the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionWorld Health OrganizationAmerican College of OBGYN, and Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine recommend the vaccine be made available to pregnant women. These organizations also encourage women to discuss their situation with their provider before moving forward. They agree that in most cases there is no reason for pregnant women to not receive the vaccine.

“We’re gathering more and more information and I think at this point there are no concerns that we have with the vaccine and has been given to more than 10,000 women,” Esplin said. “This additional information that’s coming in just makes it more and more reasonable for people to say, ‘I’m going to I’m going to take the vaccine.'”

Esplin believes it’s safe for women to get the vaccine at any point during pregnancy. “At this point, we don’t see any increased risk from having the shot early in the pregnancy versus late in the pregnancy. We don’t see a difference in efficacy either,” he said.

“We know that this particular type of vaccine — the mRNA vaccine — should be very low risk based on the way it works,” Esplin reassured, adding that the mRNA code doesn’t cross the placenta.

Esplin urges women to consult their provider and assess their own individual risk based on exposure to COVID-19 and medical conditions.

The Fitzgerald family is excited to welcome another little boy to their family on May 25th. (Photo provided by Sarah Fitzgerald)

“We haven’t seen complications from the vaccine at this point in pregnant women,” he said. “If your goal is to do everything you can to have the best outcome for your baby, it likely favors having the vaccine.”

Sarah Fitzgerald felt getting vaccinated was safest for both her and her baby. “I felt that this decision was going to be the best way to protect him,” she said.

Fitzgerald looks forward to the day she will have another baby in her arms. “I think that being a mom is probably one of the greatest callings you can get in life. It comes with its challenges, like anything else, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” she said.

Esplin says in other vaccinations like influenza, it’s clear that antibodies cross to the baby through the placenta or through breast milk. While doctors assume this is also likely what happens with the COVID-19 vaccine, it still needs to be confirmed.

He tells women to expect typical side effects if they get the vaccine, such as a sore arm, body aches, fever, fatigue, or headache which demonstrate the vaccine is working. Esplin says it’s safe for women to take Tylenol to manage these side effects. He also encourages women who get vaccinated to still wear a mask, practice social distancing, and good hand hygiene to further reduce their risk of getting COVID-19.

Esplin warns women who do choose to get the COIVD-19 vaccine to wait at least two weeks before they get any other immunizations. “We are concerned that if someone gets another vaccine within 14 days of actually receiving the COVID vaccine that it may affect how effective the COVID vaccine is,” he said.

Thursday, Pfizer-BioNTech announced it will begin clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine in pregnant women. It will be the first of its kind in the United States and will enroll about 4,000 pregnant women from various countries. Pfizer says some of the women will get the real shots, while others will get a placebo. They will only be notified which they received after they deliver their baby.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Your Life Your Health

Dennis Cecchini talks about the overdose death of his son, Tennyson. (Ken Fall/KSL TV)...
Annie Knox, KSL TV

The overdose-reducing drug doctors say more of us should have on hand

It can fit in your pocket and save a life. After overdose deaths from opioids climbed during the pandemic, medical workers and advocates are spreading the word about naloxone.
9 days ago
Mother offers her advice for keeping her kids active at the park in the summer....
Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Ways to keep your kids active during the summer break

With Utah's weather so nice this time of year, you would think getting kids to be active would be a slam dunk. But it can be a tall order given the draw of smartphones, tablets, and video games.
17 days ago
Watermelon pizza - Skip the sugary snacks this summer and make fruit the star of the show with thes...
Cindy St. Clair, KSL TV

Make fruit the star of summer snack time

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Between the BBQs, road trips, and busy schedules, summer can be a tough time to get healthy snacks into your kids. For Intermountain Healthcare’s corporate executive chef, Alex Govern, a little bit of sugar goes a long way in helping his kids eat healthy. “We don’t say no to sugars,” […]
24 days ago
...
Ken Fall, KSL TV

With warm weather arriving, keep your kids safe from window falls

It’s that time of year when windows are flying open to let in some fresh air. But it’s also when open windows and unsafe screens present a serious danger to little kids.
30 days ago
...
Ken Fall, KSL TV

Why Utahns are at higher risk for deadly skin cancer

Utah has the unfortunate distinction of having the highest rate of melanoma in the nation—a rate more than double the national average. Regular screenings can save lives.
1 month ago
A mobile team with the Salt Lake County Health Department administers COVID-19 vaccines at Rancho M...
Ken Fall, KSL TV

Are you over 50 or heading out of town? Get a 2nd COVID-19 booster, Utah doctor says

With COVID-19 rates rising in Utah and throughout most of the country, public health officials are most concerned about people over 50 and the immunocompromised. 
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Is It Safe For Pregnant Women To Get The COVID-19 Vaccine?