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Local OB/GYNs weigh in on COVID vaccine and pregnancy, fertility

All three doctors all recommend getting the vaccine
Published: Feb. 1, 2021 at 11:22 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 4, 2021 at 1:11 PM CST
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - When asked directly whether women who are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant should get the COVID vaccine, OB/GYN Dr. Briana Barclay said “we are strongly recommending it, obviously it’s an individual decision but based on what we know about the vaccine, based on what we know about other vaccines, we really feel like it’s very safe.”

Other local OB/GYNs Dr. Lyndsey Day and Dr. Shirley Hinshaw agree.

“We would recommend the vaccine to anyone who has the opportunity to get it,” Dr. Day said.

Both Hinshaw and Day are currently breastfeeding and say they both decided to get the vaccine to not only protect themselves but their babies as well.

“There should be some antibodies that a lactating mother can pass on to her baby which will actually protect her baby and give her baby some immunity to the COVID virus which is really beneficial,” Day said.

“The thought that I may be able to protect my infant was a very important part of my decision for getting the vaccine,” Hinshaw said.

Hinshaw said she was originally hesitant to get the vaccine when it was offered to her and her staff.

“I’ll be honest I didn’t want to be one of the first people to receive it but after several other people had gotten it especially at Genesis within the first week I had no hesitation to get the vaccine,” she said.

Barclay and others recommend talking with your physician before deciding to take the vaccine and looking at your current risks to be exposed.

“It is something that we feel confident recommending, that being said it’s a personal decision and some people have different risks, if someone’s working from home and really has very low exposure to COVID then it’s a little different than someone who’s a nurse in the ICU taking care of COVID patients every day,” Barclay said, “By the time that we get to most healthy pregnant age adults that can get it we are going to have more data so that’s helpful and actually they’re collecting it as we speak.”

While official research is currently being collected, the doctors don’t foresee any drastic change in recommendations with the current vaccines available.

“So based on all of that and how we know how it works, it’s very hard to imagine it would cause any problems with pregnancy, any problems with breastfeeding,” Barclay said, “More information is coming certainly they are doing research now on pregnant women who are getting the vaccine, there were actually some women who got pregnant during the vaccine trials even though they were advised not to, some did become pregnant and there were no known complications to this point in their pregnancies because of the vaccine.”

Dr. Day herself has enrolled to help with the study of the vaccine and breastfeeding.

“Specific to breastfeeding I have enrolled in a few different breastfeeding studies which feel like we’re doing something good to get some more information about this vaccine and breastfeeding,” Day said.

While research continues, the biggest issue with the vaccine the doctors are currently facing surrounds misinformation, specifically the myth that the vaccine causes infertility.

“I think the biggest thing I’ve heard is people not wanting to get the vaccine because of concerns about if it causes infertility and that’s really just a complete myth based on misinformation so I think people should at least use the facts that are out there to make their decision,” Barclay said, “We are not seeing...an increased risk of stillbirth or pregnancy loss, any of those things so those are really just unfounded myths.”

“A lot of the questions that I have received actually from friends who just recently became pregnant is effects on the fetus and if there will be any long term effects from the vaccine, which there are not any long term effects, no effects on the fetus since it’s an mRNA vaccine, there’s no change in the genetic disposition of the fetus,” Hinshaw said.

“I’ve had a lot of people ask me also ‘well, I want to get pregnant in the future, do you think this going to make it so I can’t have a baby?’ and there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that this vaccine alters fertility in any way, so I feel very reassured in telling women ‘go ahead and get the vaccine and especially if you’re not currently pregnant or breastfeeding, there is no reason to hesitate in getting it’” Day said.

The recommendations come as pregnant women are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

“COVID is very dangerous for pregnant women, they have a much higher chance of being hospitalized, more severe illness ending up in the ICU, and actually the chance of dying is 1.7 times higher than a non-pregnant woman of the same age,” Barclay said.

In the end, the doctors see the vaccine as one of the best ways to beat the pandemic.

“The more people that get it (the vaccine) the faster we can get out of this mess,” Barclay said.

The Group has also added a page to their website that goes over FAQs regarding fertility and the vaccine over at https://obgyngroup.com/for-patients/covid-19-vaccine.

correction: TV6 corrected a quote from Dr. Barclay after the Group reached out to TV6 saying she had misspoke about pregnant women and their higher chance of being hospitalized. Officials with the Group say Dr. Barclay said it should read 1.7 times instead of 7x.

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