The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging pregnant people to roll up their sleeves as the nation sees more unvaccinated mothers-to-be get COVID-19.
The agency had previously said the vaccine was safe for expectant mothers who chose to get the shot. But on Wednesday the CDC began recommending it for people who are pregnant or might become pregnant.
The agency says pregnant people are at a greater risk for severe illness that requires hospitalization and the use of a ventilator. The risk from the delta variant increases for the unvaccinated.
“Really this emphasis in terms of vaccination in pregnancy is well warranted,” said Dr. Marjorie Meyer, Division Director of Maternal and Fetal Medicine at the University of Vermont Medical Center.
Meyer urges all expectant moms to speak with their doctors now that there is enough data to recommend the shot.
“I think that’s why the CDC, in terms of using the word “recommend,” lagged a little bit. Same with the Society of Maternal and Fetal Medicine. Both of them held back for a little bit to make sure we had enough data,” said Dr. Meyer.
Alyse Schulte of Vergennes is expecting her first child in September. She says she was hesitant about the vaccine at first.
“I was worried about the side effects but after consulting with my doctor up until maybe the hour before I went in to make sure nothing had changed, I decided to go ahead and get it back in April,” said Schulte.
Her only side effect was mild fatigue — a small price to pay, she says, for the peace of mind.
“Now that I’ve had the vaccine for a couple of months, it’s made the final stretch of my pregnancy. I’ve been a lot more confident in my decision to have gotten it and it’s definitely helped with the general anxiety that you feel when you see numbers of Covid starting to go up again,” said Schulte.
Dr. Meyer recommends getting the shot in the second trimester; a time when expectant mothers feel the best. This also allows more time to produce antibodies and pass those and other protections to their baby.
“We have very good data that vaccine appears to be safe, it appears to be effective, and we do know that if women get Covid, their pregnancy outcomes are worse than if women don’t get Covid,” said Dr. Meyer.
Childbirth educator and doula Hannah Christiansen is director of Beginnings Childbirth in South Burlington.
“If someone were to ask me directly, ‘Should I get the vaccine or not?’ I would encourage them to get the vaccine. But again, to do their own research and what’s comfortable for them, knowing the facts.” said Christiansen.
Those who are vaccinated can take part in Beginnings Childbirth’s in-person, prenatal programs, which include childbirth education, infant care, and breastfeeding classes. Those who are not inoculated must participate online.
“What we know about the Covid vaccine is that we know way more about it. And in fact, I would argue that we know more about his vaccine than we do a lot of medications in pregnancy,” said Dr. Meyer.
On social media Wednesday, the CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the safety and efficacy of the vaccine during pregnancy are becoming clearer. The agency also recommends the vaccine for nursing mothers as well.