RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – More pregnant people are ending up in the hospital with COVID-19. Doctors say it’s the result of many of them holding out on getting the COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant.
The CDC reported just a quarter of pregnant people are vaccinated against the virus. Doctors say you can’t have a healthy baby without a healthy mom first.
“If I were to get COVID when I was pregnant, I might not get to meet this little guy. I might not be here for my 4-year-old,” Melissa Barr told CBS 17.
She got her COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant with her second child, during her third trimester.
“I didn’t have any adverse effect while I was pregnant. No spotting, nothing,” she said.
She is protected and passed on antibodies to her baby too.
But Dr. Geeta Swamy is seeing more unvaccinated moms in the ICU. She is a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Duke University School of Medicine
“It certainly is more than we would ever expect, and we’re seeing more now with the delta variant than we were seeing at the beginning of the pandemic. It is a significant concern,” she said.
CDC data show pregnant people infected with COVID-19 are four times more like to require invasive ventilators. They are also twice as likely to die from the virus.
Swamy said no trimester is unsafe for vaccination but the longer you wait, the more you risk exposure to the virus
“Complications related to COVID infections are more likely to occur with later, advancing pregnancy. We really recommend women get the vaccine as early as they can,” she said.
She said moms unsure about the vaccine are often more worried about their babies than themselves. Some worry there isn’t enough research on long-term effects after the baby is born.
“With any vaccine that we’ve recommended, we haven’t studied the vaccine for, say, 20 years before we recommend it. Any vaccines out there, For example, shingles vaccine or the HPV vaccine,” Swamy said.
Like any other, the COVID-19 vaccines all go through proper and rigorous trials before authorization.
“There’s no real reason to raise concerns about this one over any other.”
Even with antibodies passed on, scientists still don’t know if it’s enough to protect babies from infection. It means parents should still be cautious after birth.
Masking is only recommended for children above the age of 2, so infants should not be masked.
Swamy said parents should use a strategy called cocooning.
“Surround the infant with protection. If you can, make sure that anyone (around) the infant is vaccinated, and if they’re not vaccinated, that you’re thinking about distancing. That you are using the same practices with mask-wearing and hand hygiene around your infant, as well,” Swamy said.