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In-Depth: Early data shows COVID-19 vaccine safe for pregnant women

CDC releases numbers on side effects, birth results
Posted at 5:54 AM, May 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-19 10:13:42-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Early numbers released by the CDC and other researchers show the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for pregnant women.

The CDC has been tracking pregnant women's response to the vaccines through its V-Safe program, which lets people self-report the side effects.

As of May 17, 114,668 women have registered with the program to log their symptoms.

According to an April report of the women who registered between December and February, side effects such as injection site pain, fatigue, headache, Myalgia, chills, and fever were comparable to women who were not pregnant.

The CDC has also registered 4,962 women in their COVID-19 Vaccine Pregnancy Registry to do in-depth tracking of the vaccine effects.

So far, the CDC has followed around 827 vaccinated women to the end of their pregnancy. That same report shows 104 of those women reported a miscarriage. That 12.6% number is within the 10-26% range of what's considered "normal" for pregnancies.

The CDC says 9.4% were premature among the babies born, 3.2% were considered "small size," 2.2% had congenital disabilities. There were no neonatal deaths reported. All of those numbers also fall within the "normal" range.

Researchers say those numbers suggest getting the COVID-19 vaccine does not add any risk to a pregnancy.

"So far, in the data that has been collected, there doesn't seem to see anything that would suggest anything over and above what the usual outcomes of pregnancy might be," said UC San Diego School of Medicine Professor of Pediatrics Dr. Christina Chambers.

"I think all the data so far point to the fact that this seems to be good for the mom and the baby."

Dr. Chambers is also the Program Director for MotherToBaby California, which is also researching the effects of the COVID-19 Vaccine on pregnant women.

She says 600 women are involved in their studies, with another 1,200 waiting.

Dr. Chambers is hopeful her research, paired with the CDC information, will convince more women that getting the vaccine while pregnant is safe.

"I think they'll always be people who will say it's just not for me. But with additional safety data that is being accumulated now, I think more people will feel confident that it's acceptable to get it," she said.

RELATED: Should pregnant or breastfeeding women get the COVID-19 Vaccine

Meanwhile, other research from a small study in Boston found the COVID-19 vaccine gives the same level of immunity to pregnant women as it does to non-pregnant women. It also found antibodies in infants' cord blood and breast milk.

That means a vaccinated mother could pass immunity along to her child, either in the womb or through breastfeeding.

All the data is still preliminary, and Chambers says it will take months for more concrete evidence. But she hopes the early results make pregnant women less hesitant to get the vaccine and register for studies on its impact.

"This question won't go away," Dr. Chambers said, noting that there may be a need for booster shots or repeated immunization like a flu vaccine. "We will need to be able to address it in future years as women become pregnant and may need to be vaccinated against this particular virus."