Learn what you need to know about the COVID vaccine and pregnancy
People have a lot of questions about the COVID vaccine. Is it safe? Does it work? When can I get it? If you’re going through fertility treatments or you’re already pregnant, you probably have other questions about COVID vaccine safety during pregnancy. The team at The Fertility Center of Las Vegas understands. That’s why Carrie Bedient MD, a Las Vegas fertility doctor, is explaining what you need to know about the COVID vaccine and pregnancy.
First, what is the COVID vaccine, and how does it work?
The COVID vaccine is an mRNA vaccine. This is a different and very slick way of introducing the material into the body. Most vaccines work by introducing some component of an infectious material into the body. The body then reacts to it and makes antibodies that can fight off the infection if the body encounters it again in the future.
The problem with this type of vaccine is that it takes a long time to create, and it can be hit or miss. For reference, researchers have been working on creating this type of vaccine for coronaviruses since SARS in the early-2000s, and they haven’t had any luck.
Enter mRNA vaccines. This type of vaccine is amazing because it’s a more direct way to teach your body what you want it to fight, WITHOUT introducing anything that can get you sick. The mRNA goes into the body, teaches the cells to build a spike protein, the body then recognizes it as an intruder and builds up a defense force to fight it.
Then the second dose of the vaccine allows that defense force to practice fighting, so it’s ready to go when it encounters the real virus. Meanwhile, the mRNA that did all the training just degrades away.
How did scientists develop a COVID vaccine so quickly?
Before we start discussing the COVID vaccine and pregnancy, let’s answer a few more questions. How did we get a vaccine so quickly, and shouldn’t this make us concerned about COVID vaccine safety?
Let’s start with the first question. The beauty of mRNA vaccines is that scientists can “code” the mRNA to be whatever they need it to be. As a result, when you have a ton of money, the time and energy of brilliant scientists, and the interest of the entire world, coding happens quickly. That’s how we have a vaccine a year into the pandemic.
To answer the second question, it’s important to understand the difference between expedited and rushed. “Rushed” is hurried and sloppy. “Expedited” is fast and efficient but still following the right protocols. This vaccine was expedited, not rushed. This means there’s less concern about COVID vaccine safety.
Now, keep in mind that you may notice soreness at the injection site or even develop a slight fever after getting this vaccine. This doesn’t mean that the vaccine is dangerous or that it made you sick. It just means your body is loading its response and you are feeling the effects of that. Think of it as getting sore in the gym as you train to prepare yourself for a marathon.
Finally, what do you need to know about the COVID vaccine and pregnancy?
Now it’s time to discuss the COVID vaccine and pregnancy. Why would we introduce something as unknown as a new vaccine into a pregnant woman? Because pregnant women who get COVID are not the same as non-pregnant women who get it.
- Pregnant women have lower cell immunity and their blood is more prone to clotting. Their lungs also have less space to expand and their hearts are already working harder.
- Pregnant moms are more likely to experience ICU admission or even death.
Now, the percentages of these things happening are not high. However, with 15 million cases in the US and rapidly approaching 300,000 deaths, a small percentage of a big number is still an uncomfortably large number.
So, what is the bottom line about the COVID vaccine and pregnancy? The vaccine is legitimately worth considering because pregnant women face much greater health risks if they contract COVID. Receiving the vaccine can help protect women from the virus and complications associated with it.
Our Las Vegas fertility doctor recommends waiting until after the first trimester so that any fever reaction (which is more likely after the second dose) has less impact on the baby’s development.
Also, remember that the decision to proceed with a vaccine in a pregnant woman depends on an individual’s risk factors and specific circumstances. While it’s ideal to get a vaccine before pregnancy when possible, you and your doctor may decide that getting vaccinated during pregnancy is the right move for you.
If you have additional questions about the COVID vaccine and pregnancy or our team’s thoughts on COVID vaccine safety, contact us to schedule an appointment. Dr. Bedient and all our Las Vegas fertility doctors are here to help you navigate this difficult time.