As pregnant people in B.C. are being fast-tracked on their way to a COVID-19 vaccine, researchers want to hear about their experiences, including why they chose to get the vaccine – or why they chose not to.
Dr. Deborah Money, a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology and medicine at the University of B.C.’s School of Population and Public Health, said the feedback she’s heard from pregnant and breastfeeding individuals has been mixed.
“Many women are taking up that opportunity, but we get a lot of questions about whether they should and other issues, so there’s there’s variability in people’s responses,” Money told Black Press Media by phone Wednesday (May 19).
Money is hoping to encourage pregnant and lactating individuals all across Canada, whether they received the vaccine or not, to take part in the COVID-19 vaccine registry and survey. While there has been information from countries like the U.S. to show that millions of pregnant and lactating people have gotten the vaccine with no ill-effects, Money said it’s really important to have Canada-specific data, too.
“At the moment, there is really no Canadian data at all. There was no deliberate inclusion of pregnant women in all of the early studies of all of the vaccines,” she said, noting that two vaccine manufacturers are now also starting small-scale studies on their vaccines during pregnancy.
Vaccine myths have led to some hesitation among pregnant people or those trying to conceive, including one about fertility being affected by the COVID shot.
I really think that’s a myth, but I am acutely aware that it’s being perpetuated in many spaces,” Money said, but noted that decreased birth rates during the pandemic – even prior to the vaccine – could play a role in keeping the rumours alive. “We’re really, absolutely comfortable with the fact that there’s no data that would suggest either that it’s biologically plausible or data to suggest that the COVID vaccine would interfere in any way with fertility.”
However, Money said what has been proven is that pregnant people have a higher risk of serious illness and are more likely to end up in the ICU. Vaccines for COVID, she added, aren’t the only immunizations recommended during pregnancy. The influenza vaccine is recommended because pregnant people are at higher risk of more serious illness, while the tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap) vaccine is recommended for the safety of the baby.
But for people who are concerned, Money said they shouldn’t just ignore the issue, but rather seek out trusted information.
“I think it’s really important that they talk to their prenatal care providers who know them best and know their own circumstances,” she said. “On the website… for the vaccine registry, we will have links to what we think are our trusted sources of information to help them make this decision.”
To learn more and sign up in the COVID-19 vaccine registry for pregnant and lactating peoples, visit: covered.med.ubc.ca.