A Tulsa OB-GYN who works with hospitalized patients is echoing the Centers for Diseas Control and Prevention's urging for pregnant people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Dr. Lora Larson at Saint Francis said during a Monday briefing by the hospital there’s plenty of data at this point showing the vaccines are safe for the pregnant person and their child. There's also plenty of data showing unvaccinated pregnant people are at much higher risk of being hospitalized and needing intensive care, a ventilator or a treatment known as ECMO where oxygen is added to the blood outside of the body.
Still, only about one in three pregnant people in the U.S. has received the COVID vaccine. Larson said in talking with her colleagues, that figure may be higher among those receiving prenatal care at Saint Francis, but her patients often have not seen a doctor during their pregnancies, meaning no one has talked to them about vaccination.
"I have patients coming in every day with new onset infections and have been seeing COVID patients the entire time, that 18 months, in our labor and delivery unit. And we don't know what's coming, what variants will be significant," Larson said. "But we can say that all the data that we have shows that the vaccine is safe and effective and can keep a pregnant woman out of the hospital and protect her baby from early birth or stillbirth."
According to CDC data, just 3% of pregnant people hospitalized for COVID were vaccinated, showing the vaccines offer strong protection against serious illness. That protection is shared with their babies, who are born with detectable levels of antibodies.
"Just as if they had received an antibody infusion like Regeneron that is being given in infusions to sick adults, and they're seeing that same antibody in breast milk. So, the mother is vaccinated and is able to provide her newborn with a level of immunity," Larson said.
COVID vaccines are free and readily available. You can find an appointment by visiting vaccinate918.com or by calling 211.