BOSTON (WHDH) - Some pregnant women are now eligible to receive a shot if they also have another qualifying health condition — leaving many with questions about the safety of the shot.
Dr. Mai Uchida, a child psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital, started thinking about whether she should get a COVID-19 vaccine last summer when she was just a few months pregnant with her third child.
“I didn’t want to hurt my placenta, I didn’t want to hurt the baby in any way, I didn’t want to get sick from the vaccine. So all those things did go through my mind,” she explained.
She is certainly not alone in this fear of the unknown — and now doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital are trying to provide answers.
“I am having this conversation with every single one of my patients nearly daily,” said MGH Obstetrician Dr. Ilona Goldfarb.
She said that while pregnant women were not included in clinical trials for the vaccines, there is no evidence the vaccine is harmful to them or their babies. In fact, she said, the risk of not getting it could be greater.
“It carries a risk of hospitalization. It carries a risk of needing intubation or mechanical breathing tubes. It carries a risk of even death compared to non-pregnant patients,” she explained.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci agrees – he said there is no evidence the vaccine causes problems for expecting moms or their babies.
“Approximately 20,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated with no red flags as we say,” Fauci said.
There is also no reason to suspect the vaccine will impact future fertility or a mother’s breast milk, according to MGH doctors.
“The mother’s immunity after the vaccine can pass to the baby and offer some very much needed protection for the baby after birth,” said Goldfarb
Dr. Uchida ultimately decided to get vaccinated when she was 34 weeks pregnant and said she and the baby are doing well.
She posted a video on her YouTube page to share her decision-making process with other expectant mothers.
“In the end, there’s no right answer, nor shame in whatever you choose to do,” she said. “It’s ok to listen to your emotions. Please don’t ignore your emotions. Your emotions are coming out for a reason… and I think it’s very important to listen to our gut.”
Uchida has volunteered to take part in a surveillance study of pregnant women who get the vaccine. The study will monitor how she and her baby are doing.
She said she wants real-life data available for other pregnant women.
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