Plenty of misinformation has spread about vaccines in general and COVID-19 vaccines are at the top of the news cycle in early 2021. There has never been an effort to create effective vaccines in such a short span of time before, so some people could be wary about safeguards being bypassed in the rush for a solution.
However, medical experts around the world agree that the technology and testing of COVID-19 vaccines make them both safe and effective for most of the population. Still, while pregnant women may feel comfortable about the vaccine for themselves, some might worry about the effects of the vaccine on their unborn children.
The good news is that COVID-19 vaccines are not only safe for pregnant women and their babies, but they reduce the risk of developing COVID-19 after coronavirus exposure, for which pregnant women have increased risk without immunization. Talk to Alexandra Pellicena, MD, FACOG if you want to know if a COVID-19 vaccine is right for you and your unborn child. In the meantime, keep reading for more information on vaccine development and safety.
It’s important to remember that vaccines aren’t new technology. In fact, the smallpox vaccine was introduced in 1796, so medical science has over 200 years of experience with vaccine development. There has been no outbreak of smallpox in the United States since 1949, and smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980.
So while COVID-19 vaccines are new, the science and manufacturing processes behind vaccines in general are not. Before they are given to the general population, vaccines have been thoroughly tested in clinical trials involving tens of thousands of volunteers who are under close supervision for any unwanted side effects and to make sure that the vaccines actually work. The results from these clinical trials are then examined and audited by health agencies around the world. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must approve vaccines and drugs before they are given to the general population. The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) then continue to monitor real-world results from the population that has been inoculated. With all these safeguards in place, medical experts agree that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe.
Why mRNA vaccines are safe
Traditional vaccines like the seasonal flu vaccine trigger a learning process for your immune system and enable your body to recognize infectious threats by using dead or disabled versions of pathogens like viruses. mRNA vaccines take a different approach. Instead of using pieces of coronavirus like traditional vaccines, mRNA vaccines teach your body how to fight the coronavirus pathogen, without exposing you to the actual virus. Otherwise, mRNA materials have little interaction with your body. The clinical trials have clearly shown that it’s a great way to develop effective vaccines quickly and safely.
The first two vaccines that were approved in the United States were developed by Pfizer and Moderna. They are based on this mRNA approach. The CDC recently confirmed that the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women. But the CDC isn’t the only American agency declaring these vaccines safe. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) also agree with this recommendation. So pregnant women can feel safe in their decision to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Coronavirus vaccination remains a personal choice, though Dr. Pellicena recommends inoculation for her pregnant patients. Contact Alexandra Pellicena, MD, FACOG, by phone at 713-352-8214 or online to book a consultation and discuss your vaccination or any concerns you may have. You can also request a telemedicine call to avoid visiting the office. Don’t hesitate, schedule your appointment today.