Column: Vaccine protects moms, babies


Commentary by Dr. Charles Harris

Are you a new mom, expectant mom or someone who wants to be a mom someday? If you have not already, please consider getting a COVID-19 vaccine – for the health of both you and your baby.

In recent weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine have doubled down on their pleas for pregnant and new moms to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The reason? Pregnancy can slightly weaken the immune system, making patients more vulnerable to severe illness which may require hospitalization, intensive care, special equipment to breathe or illness that results in death.

For those trying to conceive, please take comfort in knowing that there has never been evidence that any vaccine, including the COVID-19 vaccines, has caused fertility problems in women or men.

If you conceived after receiving your first Pfizer or Moderna shot, you should get your second shot as soon as you can to provide as much protection as possible. None of the COVID-19 vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19, so the vaccine cannot make you or your unborn child sick.

And for those who are pregnant, evidence suggests that the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy. In fact, you are at an increased risk of preterm birth and might be at increased risk of other adverse pregnancy outcomes if you get sick with COVID-19 and are not vaccinated. Studies show that vaccination with an mRNA vaccine during pregnancy not only builds antibodies in the mother but in umbilical cord blood, too.

The same goes for new moms. Recent reports have shown breastfeeding moms who received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines had antibodies in their breast milk, meaning COVID-19 vaccines also may help protect babies against the virus.

Those with questions about the COVID-19 vaccine should have a conversation with their health care provider. You also can contact MotherToBaby. Their services are free and confidential. They can be reached at 866-626-6847.

Dr. Charles Harris is the Hamilton County health officer.