Health Team

Health experts: Clinical trials needed on COVID-19 vaccine and pregnant women

Posted January 26, 2021 11:26 p.m. EST
Updated January 26, 2021 11:44 p.m. EST

— The World Health Organization issued recommendations on Tuesday that pregnant women should not get the Moderna coronavirus vaccine.

Several local women said they question whether it's worth getting vaccinated while expecting.

Lauren Schneider, who is 24 weeks pregnant, has been doing research about coronavirus vaccines and being pregnant.

"I'd like to think it would be safe for me, but then you hear all this conflicting information when you're pregnant about how you're almost this fragile person," she said.

WHO officials say, "While pregnancy puts women at a higher risk of severe COVID-19, the use of this vaccine in pregnant women is currently not recommended, unless they are at risk of high exposure, such as health workers."

"It's really about weighing your risk of exposure," said Dr. Greeta Swamy, a Duke University Hospital gynecologist who also does research on infectious disease during pregnancy, "We do know the cumulating data at this point is COVID infection during pregnancy is associated with poor outcomes in maternal health, higher chances of being admitted to the ICU requiring mechanical ventilation."

Swamy said that so far, there haven't been any major concerns from women getting vaccinated at Duke's clinics and hospitals.

"It would not cause infertility. [It] has not been associated with increased risk of adverse outcomes or poor outcomes in pregnancy," she said.

Swamy said research does support women receiving the vaccine while breastfeeding.

"Both ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), as well as WHO, are supportive of women receiving the vaccine during breastfeeding," she added.

Experts said there needs to be clinical trials of the vaccine on pregnant women.

"As women are getting the vaccine now, or those women who are going to, if they're doing a clinical trial, they're going to be faced with the decision of taking the vaccine versus the placebo," she said. "It may be hard to find people willing to participate and accept placebo."

Schneider said she wants to make sure she’s making a smart and safe decision for her and the baby girl on the way.

"I know at some point I will be getting the vaccine. It's just a matter of timing at this point," she added.

The WHO said they would continue working closely with Moderna to establish safety regarding its vaccine on pregnant women.

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