The University of Kentucky Public Relations and Strategic Communications Office provides a weekly health column available for use and reprint by news media. This week's column is by Wendy Hansen, M.D., chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UK HealthCare.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 30, 2021) — The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) lists pregnancy as one high risk factors for severe COVID. Pregnant people are more than 3 times more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) and 2.4 times as likely to require drastic medical intervention such as ECMO than non-pregnant people. Additionally, pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk of preterm birth and might be at increased risk of other adverse pregnancy outcomes, compared with pregnant people without COVID-19.
A study was conducted of over 1,000 pregnant people, and researchers and clinicians have seen no increased risk to baby or the mother from the vaccine. There were no reported miscarriages or other complications because of the vaccine. The vaccine is considered safe in pregnancy. There is no effect on fertility, so people who aren’t pregnant but plan to be can safely get the vaccine.
It has been confirmed that the COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective in preventing serious infection and hospitalization, but there is an added benefit for people who are breastfeeding. Reports have shown that breast milk contains antibodies from the mother’s immune response, and breastfeeding can provide some level of protection to breastfed babies. However, more data are needed to confirm the protective benefits of breastfeeding to reduce COVID-19 in babies.
The COVID-19 vaccines do not cause infection, including in pregnant people or their babies. None of the vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19, so a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make anyone sick with the disease. It is recommended that everyone over the age of 12, including people who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant get vaccinated.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.