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I’ll preface this post with the following: It wasn’t an easy decision, it wasn’t one I made lightly or without serious internal (and external) debate, and not one-size-fits-all. The choice to take an emergency use vaccine without much in the way of safety data isn’t one any mother-to-be wants to be forced to make, but every pregnant woman in America is right now faced with this decision. I wanted to share my thought process, in case it might help someone else with theirs.
Initially, I had no intention to get the vaccine. I want to see data, I don’t want to be data. That changed when news started emerging about how variants were hitting pregnant women. News sources that I trust, traditional ones, Jewish community sources of news, and individual sources I’ve utilized within healthcare systems, were saying the same thing: Hospital beds were filling up with a lot of pregnant women, and they were in worse condition than they had been at any point in the pandemic. Anecdotally, I was hearing the same (this is a friend’s sister-in-law).
Talking it over with my own midwife (who is fully vaccinated) and doctors I trust, the consensus was overwhelming: There are no known dangers from the vaccine, but plenty of known dangers from the virus. Given the choice between them, they felt that the safest plan was to get the vaccine.
Data is starting to emerge about the vaccine and pregnant women, and so far, so good:
This is as expected, but great news nonetheless: The largest yet analysis on the safety of the coronavirus vaccines in pregnant people has found no evidence that the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines pose serious risks.
— Apoorva Mandavilli (@apoorva_nyc) April 21, 2021
There has also been research released about babies born with COVID antibodies to women who were vaccinated while pregnant. It’s the same idea behind why the recommendation is for pregnant women to get a TDaP shot during every pregnancy, because the vaccine gives immunity to the baby.
Ultimately, only time will tell if my decision was the prudent one or not. But I’m relieved to know that I’m protected not only from the (albeit minuscule) possibility of death, but also from the chance I might spend time hospitalized while pregnant (I’ve only barely escaped hospitalization with stomach viruses while pregnant, I don’t pregnant well). If I tested positive at the time of labor, I would have been opening a whole other Pandora’s box that might have included prolonged separation from the baby, a highly medicalized birth, and a prolonged stay in the hospital for monitoring.
As we come to know more about the virus and the vaccine, hopefully other pregnant women will have an easier time deciding their best course of action. I’ll close with a final recommendation for women making the same decision I did: I’ve found Emily Oster, a data-loving economist at Brown University focused on parenting issues, to be one of the most level-headed prognosticators on COVID from the start, and she is also the author of the only book about pregnancy that I recommend, again, based on data. Dr. Oster is the author of a fantastic and informative (and free) SubStack newsletter, wherein she often sends information about the vaccine, COVID in general, and pregnancy. I highly recommend signing up and keeping up with her evidence-based, sane, and rational takes on parenting, especially during these times.Published in