What Pregnant Women Should Know About COVID-19 Vaccination

Women who are expecting or hoping to become pregnant have the added stress this year of the COVID-19 pandemic. We sat down with Dr. Melissa Papp, an OB/GYN at Benefis who specializes in pregnancies and deliveries, to discuss the COVID-19 vaccination and how it affects her patients.

Q: Are you recommending patients who are pregnant get a COVID-19 vaccination? Does it matter which brand?    

A: We as a group at Benefis — myself, Dr. Jeffery Palen, maternal-fetal medicine specialist Dr. June Murphy, as well as our nurse-midwife Ashley Iverson — encourage COVID-19 vaccination in all patients, including pregnant women who are at high risk for exposure.  We encourage them to get any brand of COVID-19 vaccine that is available to them.  

We recommend avoiding getting the vaccine in first trimester, if possible. The first trimester is always a stressful time for any mom, and while we don’t feel the vaccine is going to cause harm in the first trimester, we know the angst pregnant women may feel exposing their pregnancy during this vulnerable time period. Waiting until 14 weeks if possible limits this concern and stress.

Q: Are you recommending patients who plan to get pregnant in the next few years get the shot?  

A: We encourage everyone at risk of exposure gets the vaccine, which is theoretically everyone as most people come into contact with others in the community on a day-to-day basis.

Q: Are pregnant women having any different vaccine side effects?

A: Several hundred thousand women who are pregnant have been vaccinated against COVID-19. No different side effects have been noted for them.

Q: Have you had any cases of COVID among your expectant patients? Has it impacted their pregnancies?  

A: We have had several pregnant patients positive with COVID-19 during their pregnancies. We monitor these pregnancies more closely to ensure adequate growth and health of the fetus as the overall effects of having COVID-19 in pregnancy is still yet to be determined.  Anyone getting COVID-19, especially those who are pregnant, could end up with severe symptoms requiring hospitalization or intubation. There is the risk of needing to deliver early based on the severity of COVID-19 symptoms in a pregnant woman.