It is the urgent and and pressing question every pregnant woman is asking her doctor: Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Dr. Dyese C. Taylor, an attending physician in Newark Beth Israel Medical Center‘s Maternal Fetal Medicine department, offered her thoughts. And not necessarily as a doctor — but as a pregnant woman.
Taylor said she made the decision to get the vaccine even in the first trimester of her pregnancy.
And she’s happy she did.
She explained why.
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“My husband actually ended up getting COVID two weeks ago, and we considered him, as someone who works from home, one of the low-risk people to get it,” she said, adding that it’s not easy to determine exactly what risk an individual might face of contracting such a highly transmissible virus.
Taylor was one of three Newark Beth physicians appearing on a webinar, “COVID-19 Vaccine: What Women Need to Know,” earlier this week.
The trio handled a number of questions and concerns — but perhaps none as pressing as the issue of pregnant women getting vaccinated.
Taylor said she’s a proponent of everyone getting the vaccine for that reason, including — and, perhaps, especially — pregnant women.
Taylor hasn’t seen any adverse side effects of the vaccine that are specific to pregnant women. But she has seen women recently pregnant, without significant comorbidities, suffer and sometimes lose their lives to the virus. And the research tells her that preterm births are more common among COVID-positive pregnant women, too.
She spent much of the webinar answering questions such as whether breast milk contains the vaccine’s antibodies (yes, there’s evidence it does) and whether the vaccine poses a risk to a woman’s fertility (no, there’s no evidence it does).
Dr. Johanny Garcia, director of the division of General Internal Medicine at Newark Beth, chimed in with the answer to a question she gets a lot in her practice: If a pregnant woman (or anyone, for that matter) has had a previous infection, should they get the vaccine still?
“The first thing to say is, the CDC says, even if you’ve recovered from COVID, you’re eligible for the vaccine,” she said. “I’ve heard it said you should wait three months, because that’s how long the antibodies will last. But it’s just not true — it might be longer, or it might be shorter.”
She and others are saying that even those who previously tested positive for COVID-19 should receive the vaccine as soon as possible.
She added that the chance to be fully vaccinated is a remarkable opportunity — not just for one’s own health, but for the family and friends that it once more might be safe to visit.
“It can help reestablish connections with people,” Garcia said. “And I think that, as women, we want that.”
One of the key messages that Dr. Christina Migliore, a pulmonologist at Newark Beth, wanted to impress upon the digital event’s audience was this: Don’t, as women, let your health be pushed behind your other priorities.
“It’s important to bring our health to the forefront,” she said.