Demand for a COVID-19 vaccine is starting to wane, and local officials said misinformation about fertility issues are a leading reason why. Licensed OBGYN Andrea Moore said while pregnant women may suffer from more severe cases of coronavirus, there is not yet proof of vertical transmission to a newborn.
Moore discussed the vaccines in relation to pregnancy and fertility during a Facebook Live session with Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly.
Mattingly said that while supply was an issue a few weeks ago, Daviess County’s biggest problem now is lack of demand. So far, 23% of the Daviess County population had been vaccinated, he said.
“There seems to be a lot of vaccine hesitancy among women who are pregnant, and among those women who are contemplating pregnancy,” Mattingly said.
Mattingly said part of that stemmed from rumors and conspiracy theories spread via social media.
Moore added that she’d heard a number of those fallacies as well.
“The most recent one is, getting the vaccine will affect fertility and future fertility, and that’s just completely false,” Moore said. “It came out of a rumor from Europe, and it’s just complete misinformation.”
Moore said that type of misinformation spreads because “our brains tend to go to the negative.”
According to Moore, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine all recommend that pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding, and women considering pregnancy should get vaccinated.
“The main reason is, pregnant women can have a more severe case of COVID-19 than other women of the same age,” she said.
When pregnant women become “severely ill” from the virus, hospitals have been seeing higher rates of intensive care stays, ventilatory issues and death, she said. Because of that, pregnant women who catch the virus are considered high-risk in their pregnancy.
Moore said she and other OBGYNs across the country were seeing a number of pregnant patients with COVID-19 suffer miscarriages, preterm labor and preterm delivery. A lot of that, she said, stemmed from the severity of the illness.
Vertical transmission of COVID-19 from parent to unborn baby has not yet been proven, but Moore said there had been some neonatal patients with a COVID-positive mother that had become very sick soon after being born.
However, Moore said a recent study showed that women who’d been vaccinated could “possibly” pass antibodies to the baby.
“Both through breast milk and through the placenta,” she said. “Basically, babies are getting passively immunized for the virus through their moms.”
Pregnant and breastfeeding women were not involved in the initial vaccine studies, Moore noted, but more studies are being conducted to give OBGYNs better data about the risks and benefits of being vaccinated while pregnant or breastfeeding.
“There’s a self-reporting database to the CDC that has 30,000 pregnant women reporting,” she said. “And then there’s a safe pregnancy registry with 2,000 women that they’re following very closely.”