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Covid-19 Vaccine in Pregnancy: Finally Some Data.

Written by Dr. John Yoon

A recent study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology provided scientific evidence that the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines – both Pfizer and Moderna – are effective in pregnant and breastfeeding women. 


Why was this study conducted?   

– Scientific evidence was lacking regarding vaccine efficacy in a pregnant and breastfeeeding population and whether vaccination would offer any passive immunity to the newborn baby.


– As of March 1, 2021, there have been more than 73,600 infections and 80 maternal deaths in pregnant women in the United States.  

– The absolute risk of acquiring COVID-19 in pregnancy is low, however pregnancy remains a risk factor for severe disease, with an increased risk of hospital admission, ICU stay, and death. 

 – In lieu of these findings pregnant women were not included in the initial vaccine trials. 

– Specifically this study focused on the two novel mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna). 

What are the study findings? 

– Pregnant and breastfeeding women displayed a similar vaccine induced immune response when compared to non-pregnant controls. 

– Pregnant women were noted to have higher antibody titers following COVID-19 vaccination when compared to natural COVID-19 infection during pregnancy. 

– Vaccine induced antibodies were present in umbilical cord blood and breast milk after maternal vaccination. 


Why does this matter? 

– Previous recommendations were made on assumptions that pregnant women would generate similar responses to non-pregnant people. 

 – First study to demonstrate maternal antibody formation in pregnant women after administration of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine.

– Demonstrates in pregnant women who have had been infected naturally with COVID-19 would benefit from vaccination 

– Suggests that vaccination of pregnant and breastfeeding women confers immunity both to pregnant women and their newborn baby. 


What doesn’t this study show? 

– This study did not address vaccine safety and any adverse pregnancy outcomes.  

– As of March 22nd, the CDC v-safe program is tracking over 60K pregnant women who have self-reported to have been vaccinated while pregnant- There continue to be no concerning pregnancy outcomes, pregnancy complications or neonatal outcomes over the general population. 

– This study does not indicate which trimester is the ideal time for optimal transfer of antibodies


Conclusion: There is now scientific evidence to support our recommendation for vaccination of pregnant and breastfeeding women with the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.

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