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Alaska physicians encourage pregnant women to get COVID-19 vaccine

Pregnant and recently pregnant women face an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19,...
Pregnant and recently pregnant women face an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.(WBRC)
Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 6:10 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Pregnant and recently pregnant women face an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s why physicians encourage them to get vaccinated against the virus.

“What we are seeing now is that we know COVID does harm babies, does harm pregnancies, and does harm mothers,” said Dr. Amanda Beery, an obstetrician-gynecologist with Alaska Women’s Health at Providence Alaska Medical Center. “So instead of risking COVID, the best possible option is to get vaccinated, wear a mask, and stay safe.”

Beery also said that there is an increased risk of having a miscarriage in the first trimester with patients who are infected with COVID-19, and that she has seen in some cases women who are pregnant and get COVID-19 have a higher risk of delivering their baby early.

“We have patients every day who are giving birth who are COVID positive,” Beery said. Those that are not sick, they are not being separated from their babies, they are still able to care for their babies, which is beautiful, and those that are sick are having some tragic outcomes.”

During a Thursday media availability with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Dr. Lisa Rabinowitz said there is no evidence of fertility or safety issues when it comes to pregnancy and the vaccine.

“We actually know that these vaccines protect newborns in two ways,” she said. “Through the bloodstream and through the breastmilk when mothers decide to get vaccinated.”

So the question is, why are pregnant woman at an increased risk?

Beery says the reason pregnant women are more at risk for illness from COVID-19 is that when a woman is pregnant, her lungs function changes and that makes pregnant women more susceptible to getting an illness.

What about fertility?

Beery said at this time, doctors are not seeing evidence of the vaccine affecting men or women in the fertility department.

What about changes in a women’s menstrual cycle?

During Thursday’s media availability, Rabinowitz said there is no conclusive evidence that the vaccine changes a woman’s menstrual cycle.

“At this point, the data that we have to far hasn’t concluded that there’s a causal link to a COVID vaccine,” she said. “We do know that you can have changes in menstrual cycles for many reasons, including stress, and being sick, and even getting the COVID virus.”

Beery said doctors suggest expecting mothers get the vaccine, and if not their mission remains the same.

“Our ultimate outcome is a healthy mom and healthy baby, and that’s the feeling we share with our patients, and that’s what they want as well,” she said.

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