In-Depth: Should pregnant or breastfeeding women get the COVID vaccine?

UC San Diego study hopes to find answers
Posted at 5:58 AM, Feb 04, 2021

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - As the coronavirus vaccine becomes available to more people, pregnant or breastfeeding women are having trouble finding data about what it might do to them or their babies.

Now, researchers at UC San Diego's MotherToBaby program have launched a study to get answers.

"For the entire population, we need to develop this information quickly to be able to provide that reassurance," says Dr. Christina Chambers, MotherToBaby's Program Director.

MotherToBaby has aCOVID-19 vaccine fact-sheet for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. But clinical trials for all of the major vaccines in production excluded pregnant and breastfeeding women. That means there isn't any data about the shots' impact on that specific group.

Meanwhile, the CDC, WHO, American College of OB-Gyns, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine all say the decision to vaccinate should be up to each individual woman and her doctor.

They also say there's no reason to skip the vaccine, but none of them specifically recommend it. Chambers says women in that group are typically the ones with the most questions and concerns about getting vaccines. She hopes to give them some definitive answers.

"We have no reason to believe that there is any safety issue that we would be concerned about with the vaccine and pregnancy or lactation," Chambers says. "But we need to have data to help support that."

A recent survey from MotherToBaby found that 39% of pregnant women plan to skip the vaccine while they're pregnant. Among women who are breastfeeding, 25% say they won't get the vaccine.

Chambers believes more information will help lower those numbers.

"I expect that those numbers will decline, that the hesitancy will decline when people have more experience with the vaccine and the benefits of it, and as we produce data," she says.

Right now, about 4,500 women have shown interest in the study. Chambers says they're always looking for more women who want to help.

"The take-home message from this is we need to be prepared to address the special population of pregnant and breastfeeding women, quickly and in a rigorous fashion so that we can have this information available as quickly as possible," says Chambers.

To volunteer for the study, contact MotherToBaby here.