At New Jersey Perinatal Associates, we work with expectant mothers every day, and we understand that some of those who are pregnant are still concerned about the COVID-19 vaccine. We strongly agree with recent recommendations from the CDC and several pregnancy and perinatal health organizations that all pregnant women get their COVID-19 vaccine and booster. None of the available COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to have an adverse effect on pregnancy, and those who contract COVID-19 while pregnant have a greater risk of severe illness, preterm delivery, and stillbirth. Dr. Wolf was recently interviewed by NJ Spotlight News about the COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy – check out the video above or read along below for insights from one of our maternal-fetal medicine specialists at NJPA.
COVID-19 Vaccine and Pregnancy – Insights from Dr. Wolf
What Data Supports COVID-19 Vaccination for Pregnant Women?
NJ SPOTLIGHT NEWS: Dr. Wolf, what body of data is the CDC now looking at causing them to make this strong recommendation for vaccination?
DR. WOLF: I think you’re right calling it a strong recommendation. When we’re talking about 70% of people in New Jersey have been vaccinated but maybe only 23% of the pregnant patients, you have a really vulnerable population. On the one hand, you have the disease that’s devastating. But evidence is coming in much faster than I think people realize. What is the v-safe program? So, all of us, when we got vaccinated, had the opportunity to let the CDC know what we were doing and how it was going, and there’s now over 139,000 pregnant women who have reported their results. 3,900 of them are being followed longitudinally, and what they’re finding is the results look to be the same as in patients who are non-pregnant, or the rate of complications is the same as somebody who has not had the problem before. Meaning the rate of miscarriage in general is 11 to 16% in pregnancies, and right now it looks like they’re getting data of 13%, which falls right in line with the kind of data we’ve seen before.
What are the Risks Associated with COVID-19 During Pregnancy?
NJ SPOTLIGHT NEWS: Are these women and people who are pregnant getting more severely ill?
DR. WOLF: Most of the time, most women have mild disease, just like the non-pregnant. But if they get to the severe category, compared to the same woman, the same age, they’re 2 times more likely to die, 2.5 times more likely to need a ventilator, and 3 times more likely to end up in the ICU. We are absolutely seeing that, particularly in those states where there are fewer vaccinated patients right now.
Benefits of the COVID-19 Vaccine During Pregnancy
NJ SPOTLIGHT NEWS: When you’re a new mother, you’re told to be highly conscious of everything you’re putting into your body. If you have a cold, you have to tough it out. You can’t take cold medicine, but you’re told the vaccine is safe. How do you help people reconcile that information?
DR. WOLF: Well, the one thing is, we’re not going to order somebody to do it. Nobody’s going to be forced to do it. We try to make that clear. One of the things I use as an example, very honestly, is at our practice there’s ten of us, and all ten of us got the vaccine the first day we could, including my partner who’s pregnant, and just delivered her fourth child. The first day she could possibly get the vaccine, she got on line to do it. So while we recognize that we can’t say “here’s 20 years of data,” when you really delve into how these vaccines work, they don’t get incorporated into the nucleus of the cell. They can’t change your DNA. They don’t decrease fertility. One of the other benefits that we seem to see that’s just not far along to prove it yet, is that once you make those antibodies, they cross the placenta, and those antibodies are now in your baby’s blood. So you’re also protecting the baby potentially two ways. One is you’re hopefully not getting a 27 week premature birth, but then when the baby’s born, the baby has antibodies in the blood and it may also help protect the newborn.
Final Insights from Dr. Wolf
NJ SPOTLIGHT NEWS: If you had one final message for anyone who is on the fence, or who sees this data or maybe has been waiting for some guidance like this to come out, what would that message be?
DR. WOLF: I think if you look at the joint statement that came out yesterday, everybody’s urging you to do it. So it wasn’t just one group – this isn’t just the CDC. It’s the Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine, it’s the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, it’s the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Family Physicians. If you ask the doctors, the vast majority of them are absolutely getting the vaccine. We really believe in it. We understand the hesitancy, but that’s what we do all day long. My job is to try to protect moms and babies and we’re trying to do that with this vaccine.
Comprehensive High-Risk Pregnancy Care in NJ
At our seven office locations in New Jersey, we are dedicated to providing compassionate high-risk pregnancy care to those at all stages of pregnancy. We understand that pregnancy can be a stressful time, especially during a pandemic, and we are here to help you navigate this time and answer any questions you have about the best next steps for you and your baby. Dr. Wolf and the rest of our perinatologists in NJ work hand in hand every day, providing prenatal diagnosis services, care for medical complications of pregnancy, care for pregnancy-related complications, and preconception counseling. To learn more or to schedule an appointment at one of our offices in Belleville, Livingston, Paramus, Parsippany, Teaneck, Warren, or Westfield, please contact us today.