Should pregnant women get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Local doctors say data is limited this early on
Posted at 7:22 AM, Dec 09, 2020

Should pregnant women get the COVID-19 vaccine once it's available in Michigan? As of now, the answer really depends on the specific patient and their risk factors local doctors say; with new information coming out regularly and new CDC guidance expected as early as this weekend.

“The vaccine is so relatively new, we don’t have a lot of science-based data on pregnant women who have of course taken this vaccine," said Senior Vice President at Henry Ford Health System, Dr. Betty Chu.

Pregnant women were not included in the clinical trials for the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine; the latter Henry Ford participated in.

“It would beneficial if we could include pregnant women, but in the effort to get a clinical trial through that phase 3 time frame, it’s hard to recruit an adequate amount of pregnant women into a clinical trial," Dr. Chu explained. “Currently the CDC’s interim plan for vaccine distribution does not explicitly include pregnant or breastfeeding women.”

But that doesn't mean expecting or breastfeeding women can't or shouldn't get the vaccine either, Dr. Chu told Action News, noting the CDC's Advisory Committee for Immunizations Practices, which said in October pregnant women should be cautious but not excluded from getting the vaccine.

What this means for now, is that pregnant women should talk to their doctors about how at-risk they are if they contracted the virus.

Vice Chair of Obstetrics at Beaumont Royal Oak, Dr. Kurt Wharton, noted recently published CDC data pertaining to pregnant women who tested positive for COVID-19.

“Women who are pregnant have a much higher risk of getting so sick they have to go to the intensive care unit, that they will require intubation and other therapies, and of course there’s a much higher risk that they may deliver prematurely," Dr. Wharton said.

The vaccine could arrive in Michigan by the end of December. The first to get it will be healthcare workers and people who live in long-term care facilities.

“I think the most important thing is to consider how high risk that pregnant person is in-particular," Dr. Chu told Action News.

Generally speaking, with a few exceptions, pregnant women are advised to get approved vaccines. Dr. Wharton expects that once the CDC issues final recommendations for the COVID-19 vaccine, which could come as soon as this weekend for the Pfizer vaccine, that it will suggest pregnant women be vaccinated.

Thursday the FDA will convene a panel of experts to debate how strong the data is surrounding the Pfizer vaccine, and will do the same later this month for the Moderna vaccine.