Despite the rising number of coronavirus cases across the world, many pregnant women in the United States remain unvaccinated.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately only 3 in 5 pregnant Americans have been vaccinated. Specifically, only 22% of pregnant people got the vaccine while expecting, while another 18% received it before becoming pregnant.
There’s been a lot of concern that the COVID-19 vaccine may be dangerous in pregnancy – rumors have suggested the vaccine may increase the risk of miscarriage, birth defects or complications, and may even contribute to infertility.
However, health professionals have shot these misassumptions down. In February, we spoke to CCRM’s Dr. Mark Payson about the safety of the COVID vaccine for pregnant and breastfeeding women. When asked if there’s any evidence to suggest the vaccine may impact future fertility, Dr. Payson simply stated, “No.”
In addition, when asked what pregnant women should be doing to protect themselves from COVID, he said, “Get the vaccine ASAP. Follow mask and social distancing recommendations,” emphasizing there’s no research to suggest the vaccine is harmful in pregnancy.
Conversely, however, there is evidence that shows COVID can be detrimental to both maternal and fetal health.
The Guardian notes that various studies have found having coronavirus in pregnancy raises the risk of prenatal complications, like preeclampsia, premature birth, fetal growth restrictions, and hemorrhaging.
One study found that it raises the risk of having a pre-term birth by 60%. Another study found that pregnant women with coronavirus were twice as likely to deliver their babies stillborn, while a similar one found that the risk of maternal death is 22 times higher in COVID-positive women.
Catching coronavirus can also affect fertility in both men and women. In July, we reported that healthcare experts were warning catching coronavirus can negatively impact male fertility (whereas getting the vaccine has not been proven to affect male or female fertility).
Specifically, there’s a growing body of evidence that suggests COVID affects sperm motility and quantity, making pregnancy less likely.
Currently, the CDC recommends that everyone eligible gets the COVID vaccine as soon as possible. The vaccines are available in the U.S. for anyone over 12-years of age, and there’s speculation that shots for children ages 5 and older may soon become available.
For more information on the COVID vaccine and for help making an informed decision for yourself and your family, we urge you to speak to your family doctor. It’s important we do our part to protect ourselves and others from coronavirus.