You’re pregnant. Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe? Yes, says UVM expert

Local News

While many pregnant women have received the COVID-19 vaccine, there is limited data about how safe the shots are for expectant mothers and their babies, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Kelley McLean, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at the University of Vermont Medical Center, says she has fielded a lot of questions from women about whether they should get the vaccine when they are pregnant.

McClean says that while getting vaccinated is a personal decision, she recommends it, adding that pregnant women are 3 to 4 times more likely to get sick.

“I am recommending to women that they strongly consider the vaccine,” she says. “I do know that COVID and pregnancy is not safe. And any concern about the vaccines in pregnancy is entirely theoretical because we have not seen it.”

According to McLean, women are also concerned about the timing of the shots. She says because the risk of miscarriage is highest in the first trimester, she recommends avoiding receiving the vaccine during those first three months of pregnancy “primary so that women don’t feel like two are connected.”

Because the shot can sometimes cause flu-like symptoms within 24 to 48 hours, McLean says pregnant women may have an easier time with the vaccine in the second trimester as opposed to the third.

She says, however, that it’s safe to get inoculated at any point in the pregnancy. There has also been no evidence that the vaccines are harmful to babies while breast-feeding.

Karinne Commenzo, who recently gave birth to her second child says she was initially “very hesitant” to get the vaccine. She went into labor around the time of her scheduled shot. Though hesitant at first, she says talking about it helped. Her new appointment is now April 7.

“I do think there was a part of me that was grateful that it wasn’t a decision I had to make during most of my pregnancy,” said Commenzo.

Lindsey Waite of St. Albans is pregnant with her second child. After careful consideration, she got her first dose Monday.  

“It was a decision I went back and forth on for a while and is a very personal decision for each individual,” she said. “But I thought it was the best choice for my whole family.

Kathleen Kelly of Vermont Mom, said most mothers “are completely on board” with the vaccinations.

“There is trepidation. For whatever reason they feel better with the two shots, not the one. That seems to be a popular conversation,” said Kelly.

She says she encourages women to express their concerns about the vaccine.

“They just need to talk it through, and they need to say it out loud so that someone around them can say, ‘Yep, I get it. Super stressful. But I’m with you. I think you should get the shot,'” said Kelly.

Pregnant women are eligible in the state to get vaccinated. However, this doesn’t include lactating women or those intending to get pregnant.

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