INDIANAPOLIS — It has been months since COVID-19 vaccines became widely available. In that time, researchers have learned about the benefits that come from getting vaccinated.
A new study found breast milk of mothers who are vaccinated against COVID-19 contains a significant amount of antibodies that may help protect nursing infants from illnesses. This protection is called passive immunity.
"This is something I'm extremely proud of being able to do," said Erika Klages, a mom of two who's fully vaccinated and recently donated her milk. "I reached out to my milk bank liaison to see if I would still be able to donate and she highly encouraged it and said, "Absolutely!" I have since given a batch of milk with the COVID antibodies through the vaccine."
The CDC along with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend those who are pregnant and/or breastfeeding to get vaccinated as a way to protect their child. Donating that milk is an added benefit for places like The Milk Bank.
Sarah Long, Director of Clinical Operations for The Milk Bank, says they're always in need of donors. Breast milk is a finite commodity that only half of the population produces during a short amount of time. Long explained for that reason, and the benefit of COVID-19 antibodies, she encourages anyone who can breastfeed and donate to do so.
"It's just another compelling reason for moms to breastfeed, to provide that initial protection for their babies," Long said. "Essentially, most of our milk does end up in a NICU to a fragile infant."
Klages hopes sharing her story will put people's minds at ease concerning being vaccinated while breastfeeding and donating your milk.
"I would hope that by me taking that step to protect my own child would be taken into consideration and I hope that protection would travel on to any babies who would get my milk."