Healthbeat: CDC urges expectant mothers to get vaccinated

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The FDA is working to approve COVID vaccine booster shots for people who are immuno-compromised. Meanwhile, health experts are weighing in on the vaccine when it comes to pregnant women.

There’s been reluctance on the part of many moms-to-be if getting the COVID vaccine does more harm than good to them and their unborn baby. A local maternal health expert is weighing in on the CDC’s strengthened recommendation for pregnant women to get the vaccine.

“Anytime you’re giving any medication, you don’t 100 percent know what’s going to happen, medication, vaccine,” Dr. Eric Hodgeson, Chief of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, at Geisinger said.

But, Dr. Hodgeson says one thing is clear about vaccine options in the U.S.: “Our experience and the data really and foremost that the vaccine is safe.”

Safe for pregnant women, too, according to the CDC.

“We now have new data that re-affirmed the safety of our vaccines for people who are pregnant, including those early in pregnancy and around the time of conception,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC Director said.

The CDC says scientists analyzed nearly 2,500 pregnant women who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, meaning either Pfizer or Moderna, before 20 weeks of pregnancy. The results from that analysis showed no increased risk for miscarriage. The CDC also says pregnancy increases the risk for severe illness from COVID, a statement with which Dr. Hodgeson agrees.

“Because a woman is pregnant, she is at a higher chance of having the need to be on a ventilator, to die, to have problems for long-standing problems for her health and the baby’s health,” Dr. Hodgeson said.

Dr. Hodgeson says fear has distorted facts surrounding the science. It’s why he emphasizes with expecting moms that risking COVID infection by not getting the vaccine is a risk too great to take.

“Since we have a vaccine that’s effective and safe and it can protect mom and the baby, then I really do think it’s in my mind. It’s really a slam dunk, but it does take a lot of communication and discussion. Because I do know that people are nervous and they’re understandably nervous,” said Dr. Hodgeson.

The CDC’s strengthened COVID vaccine recommendation for pregnant women also includes those who are breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant, or might become pregnant in the future. According to CDC data, only 23 percent of pregnant women received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of July 31st.

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