Vermont providers welcome new recommendation that pregnant women get COVID vaccine

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging pregnant women to roll up their sleeves as the nation sees more unvaccinated mothers-to-be get COVID-19.

On Wednesday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that with the safety and efficacy of the vaccine during pregnancy becoming clearer, she urged women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant to get the shot. The agency also recommends the vaccine for nursing mothers.

Dr. Marjorie Meyer, division director of Maternal and Fetal Medicine at the University of Vermont Medical Center, said the new guidance is warranted — pregnant women are at a greater risk for severe illness than women who are not pregnant..

Meyer recommends that expectant moms speak with their doctors now that the CDC says there is enough data to recommend the shot.

“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.

Dr. Meyer recommends getting the shot in the second trimester, when expectant mothers feel the best, to allow time for the production of antibodies that are passed along to the baby.

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.

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.

Meyer said the COVID vaccines are being more closely watched than any other. “And in fact,” she says, “I would argue that we know more about his vaccine than we do a lot of medications in pregnancy.”

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