NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Pregnant women tend to carry more than just the weight of their unborn babies, and lately, one big worry is whether expectant women should get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“It makes my heart heavy whenever patients are not willing to have the conversation, or they’re so fearful of the vaccine, ” said Dr. Lea Porche, with the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department at Eastern Virginia Medical School.
On Tuesday, Porche saw three patients in the intensive care unit and two more in other hospital rooms at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. She said most of the pregnant women being admitted are unvaccinated.
“We have seen where the mom, baby, dad does not make it … we have seen where we do an emergency c-section and the baby makes it but mom does not,” Porche said.
While Porche has seen devastating outcomes, she has also seen mothers fully recover and deliver healthy babies. She has also seen others test positive for COVID-19 but who have no symptoms.
The problem, she said, is there’s no way to know which women will end up in the hospital.
“It hurts because I feel so strongly that this is something that could be prevented,” she said.
The CDC reports growing evidence about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine during pregnancy.
Women who get the shot are also passing along some immunity to their newborns and there is no evidence it causes infertility.
Still, many continue to ask about potential long-term effects.
“We just don’t have the time. We don’t have that amount of time where we’ve been collecting data, but we will,” Porche said.
Until then, Porche said she relies on what doctors know today: pregnant women are more susceptible to getting COVID-19 and are at increased risk for getting severely ill or dying before they have a chance to hold their new baby in their arms.
So far, fewer than 25% of pregnant women have received the vaccine.
Porche said if you have questions or concerns, talk to your doctor.