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Is it safe for pregnant women to get the COVID-19 vaccine? UAMS doctor answers common question

A gynecologist at UAMS said it's ultimately up to the mother to make the decision, but here's some information that can help.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — For one specific group of people, who are holding another life in their hands, there are many questions about whether or not the COVID-19 vaccine is safe.

Dr. Nirvana Manning, the Chair and Service Line Director for Obstetrics and Gynecology at UAMS, said the number one question they are getting asked right now is, "If I am pregnant, should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?"

Manning said it's ultimately up to the mother to make the decision, but she shared information that can help.

"I want what's best for my patients, so I just would never recommend something to them that I think would be harmful," she said.

Dr. Manning said she understands the hesitations some pregnant women are having about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

"It's a moment in your life when you don't think about yourself, as much as you are thinking of this unborn child, and you would never want to do anything to harm that," she said.

As the chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UAMS, Manning said it's important to understand a couple of things.

First, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine excluded pregnant or breastfeeding women in their clinical trials, so that is why the data is limited. 

According to Manning though, several women in both trials were unknowingly pregnant.

"Half of those got the vaccine, half of those got the placebo, and we have not seen any adverse outcomes on any of the ones that have received the vaccine," she said.

Secondly, Dr. Manning added that this vaccine works differently than most. 

Once the vaccine is injected, the spiked protein is recognized by our immune system as foreign and we develop antibodies.

This basically all that means, according to Manning, is that it is unlikely the vaccine will cross the placenta and it can't get into the mother's DNA cells.

"What we know now about the mechanism of action of this vaccine, does not lead me to believe it'll act any differently in pregnant women as it would in non-pregnant women," she said.

On Friday, Jan. 22, UAMS will host a town hall regarding pregnancy, breastfeeding, and misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Also, be on the lookout in the coming weeks for more community townhalls from UAMS regarding this topic.

Dr. Manning said several healthcare workers at UAMS who are pregnant have received the vaccine. There has been no difference between their reactions and their co-workers' reactions. 

For more information on the COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant women, click here.