COVID-19 vaccination and pregnancy – what you need to know
Published: 31 August 2021
As Townsville’s COVID-19 vaccination numbers soar, obstetrics and gynaecology staff specialist Dr Danny Tucker has urged pregnant women to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their unborn baby.
Dr Tucker said he and his colleagues were saddened to hear of the devastating stories of COVID-19 across the world and, particularly, of the number of pregnant women who had contracted COVID-19 and died.
“COVID-19 infection in pregnancy increases the risk of pregnancy complications such as premature birth and needing neonatal intensive care,” Dr Tucker said.
“Pregnant women who catch COVID-19 are much more likely to need intensive care admission themselves and we are only now starting to understand the implications of ‘long COVID’, which is when people have persistent symptoms for many months afterwards.”
Dr Tucker said obstetricians and midwives had conversation with women every day about the benefits and misconceptions of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Healthcare workers are often frustrated by the amount of misinformation around about COVID-19 and the available vaccines,” Dr Tucker said.
“Pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding are already routinely and safely offered vaccines in pregnancy, for example, to protect against influenza and whooping cough.
“These vaccines, like the COVID-19 vaccines, are non-‘live’ vaccines, so you cannot catch COVID-19 from the vaccine and although it’s called an mRNA vaccine it doesn’t work by altering a mother or baby’s individual genetic code.
“We know that the vaccine prevents severe COVID-19 infection, it reduces the chance you will need to go to the hospital, and it prevents death due to COVID-19 complications for all people.
“All pregnant women are currently eligible for the Pfizer vaccine and there are sound reasons why obstetric and midwifery leaders recommend vaccination.”
Danny said no studies to date had found any harm to pregnant women or their baby after they received the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Over 200,000 pregnant women have now received a COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy and national and international medical organisations recommend routine vaccination at any time during pregnancy,” Dr Tucker said.
“Of course, we don’t have long-term safety data from children whose mothers received the vaccine; however, in a pandemic you have to make decisions on the best information available.
“The risks of COVID-19 for mothers and babies are clear and yet harm from vaccination has not been found.
“It’s normal to be anxious and we encourage you to talk to your care provider about the best options for you.”
Townsville University Hospital Obstetrician Dr Natasha Frost said she didn’t hesitate when she was offered the vaccine during her pregnancy.
“The risks of COVID-19 are higher for pregnant women, and I’m happy there’s enough evidence for vaccine safety to have it myself,” Dr Frost said.
“Anyone pregnant should speak with their care provider about the pros and cons of vaccination and make the choice that’s right for them.
“We have a window of opportunity in Australia, a luxury that most of the world hasn’t had.
“We need to act now and get vaccinated to protect ourselves and our family.”
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