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Doctors receive questions from pregnant women about COVID-19 and vaccine

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Posted at 5:41 PM, Aug 12, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS — There have been many concerns from women about the COVID-19 vaccine and the virus itself. The recommendations have changed recently for pregnant women and the vaccine, as more reports about the effects of COVID-19 and the vaccine in women are coming in.

“A lot of them are really concerned with COVID,” said Dr. Jessica Ebinger, an OB/GYN at Ascension St. Vincent.

Ebinger says her counterparts across the country have started seeing another influx of pregnant women in the ICU from COVID-19. "So this is a serious thing that’s affecting even us young women, people who are pregnant in their reproductive stage of their life.”

She worries women are fearful and hesitant about getting the vaccine while pregnant.

“Definitely the COVID vaccine was a big deal for whether I should get it or whether I shouldn’t,” Ashley Alexander of McCordsville, said. “The day that I was getting my COVID vaccine, that’s when I found out I was pregnant. And I called my doctor immediately and I was like, OK what do I do?”

“Is it safe in pregnancy? Is it safe if I’m breast feeding? Is it going to cause problems?”

They're all questions Dr. Ebinger said she gets on a daily basis. She says in the beginning of the vaccine roll out, the information was unclear whether it was safe or not for pregnant women; and the American College of OB/GYN was not recommending it one way or the other.

But now, they’ve changed their tune, saying all pregnant women and mothers who are breastfeeding should get the vaccine. Especially since pregnant women are at a greater risk of having complications from COVID-19.

“Some of the research studies have come out and if you get COVID while pregnant, there’s a three fold increase risk of being in the ICU, there’s about a 2.5 increased risk just from being pregnant I’m getting ventilated or on something like ECMO,” Ebinger said. “I mean these are very serious things.”

Ebinger said there have been no additional side effects reported in pregnant women who got the vaccine nor any adverse pregnancy outcomes. But women across the country have been noticing changes in their menstrual cycle after either having COVID or getting the COVID vaccine.

“It kind of makes sense,” she said. “Your body, your cycles can get off if you’re stressed, if you’re sick, if your body is mounting some kind of immune response which is what these vaccines are doing. So it’s not an uncommon complaint that I’ve been hearing. The vast majority of time, all the people I’ve talked to, all their cycles come back to normal after about a month or two.”

For Alexander, she said she and her husband work full-time. He’s a firefighter and their daughter is in daycare. And the risk of exposure was just too great not to get the vaccine.

“I felt like the risks outweighed being very sick for me personally getting sick, or my family spreading that, or for something happening to the baby also,” Alexander said.

“We know most of the people in the hospitals right now and the vast vast majority of people who are dying are unvaccinated,” Ebinger added. “So if you’re pregnant, we know you’re at an increased risk of being hospitalized in ICU and dying. So don’t take that risk.”