For pregnant people, the coronavirus pandemic has been a time of stress and uncertainty—and unfortunately, that anxiety wasn’t lessened much by the approval of the covid-19 vaccine. Due to the long-standing tradition of excluding people who are pregnant from clinical trials, there was initially very little information on how the covid-19 vaccine could impact them, leading many to choose not to get vaccinated. But even after research found the covid-19 vaccine to be safe during pregnancy, doctors are still struggling to convince pregnant people to get the vaccine—a fact made especially concerning by the increasing number of expectant mothers who have been getting seriously ill or even dying after contracting covid-19 in recent months.
In the U.S., pregnant people are vaccinated at less than half the rate of the overall adult population, reports the Wall Street Journal. As of the first week of October, only about one-third of pregnant people between 18 and 49 years old were fully vaccinated, compared to the over two-thirds of U.S. adults who have received the vaccine. The CDC issued their recommendation that pregnant people receive the covid-19 vaccine in April of this year, and the leading organization of obstetrician-gynecologists has also recommended the vaccine since July.
Studies published in recent months have confirmed that the covid-19 vaccine doesn’t pose any particular risk to pregnant people. Receiving the covid-19 vaccine hasn’t been found to increase the risk of miscarriage, nor has it been linked to any fertility issues—in fact, early research suggests that getting the covid-19 vaccine while pregnant could offer infants some protection against the virus once they’re born. And on top of that, people who are pregnant or postpartum are actually at an increased risk of serious illness or death if they contract covid-19, and their babies are also more likely to be born prematurely and be admitted to the ICU.
As William Grobman, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Ohio State University College of Medicine and president of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, put it to WSJ: “If what you’re concerned about is doing the thing that is most likely to lead to you being healthy and having a pregnancy without complications, it is unequivocally to receive the vaccine.”