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COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy: Is it safe to get the shot?

Posted at 6:00 AM, Feb 08, 2021

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Crystal Pacanowski is a doctor at Banner Health in Tucson. Not to mention, she's six-months pregnant during a pandemic.

"I have definitely been nervous," says Pacanowski. "I think a lot of that has to do with what I do for a job. So being an OB/GYN, I work in the clinics and I work in the hospital, so I am constantly exposed."

When you're pregnant, your body’s immune system doesn’t function the way it's supposed to. And for the most part, that’s a good thing. It allows mothers-to-be to carry a baby without risks of the body attacking the pregnancy. But there is a downside…

"We are then more susceptible to contracting illnesses and having a more severe impact from those illnesses, should we can contract them," says Pacanowski.

When you’re dealing with a novel virus, like COVID-19, clinical trials are a great way to get to the bottom of unanswered questions. But if you’re pregnant, you’re considered to be a protected-population. And doctors say it’s not uncommon for that group of people to be excluded from clinical trials.

"We don't have that very specific data which is focused on pregnancy, to be able to provide to the community so that they can make what they feel is a very well-informed decision," says Pakanowski.

But even though there’s no for-sure answer as to whether or not the vaccine is 100 percent safe for expectant mothers, doctors say…

"There is a lot of information that you can extrapolate from the studies that were done on non-pregnant women, so there's no evidence to say that it's not safe at this time," says Pacanowski.

Pregnancy is all about timing; you’ve got nine months to grow that little person, so we also wanted to know: is there a better time than another to get the shot?

"Right now, I don't think that we can recommend that one trimester over another, is a better time to be vaccinated," says Pacanowski. "My recommendation would be, as long as you're comfortable getting the vaccine, I would be vaccinated as soon as it's available to you."

So let’s say you heed that advice. Remember our story that talked about how antibodies help protect us from viruses like COVID? Well, doctors say once you have your baby, and if you decide to breastfeed, that newborn could possibly benefit from your vaccination.

"It actually may provide some immunity to baby, because once your body develops those antibodies to COVID, you can pass them through the breast milk to baby," says Pacanowski.

You can find just about anything online and it can be easy to go down a black hole filled with all sorts of misinformation. So if you’ve got concerns about the vaccine and your pregnancy, skip the Googling, talk to your doctor and get that peace of mind that's so important to have when you're getting ready to bring another human into the world.