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I am a pregnant doctor who received the Covid-19 vaccine. Within hours of making my decision public on social media, scathing attacks from anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers ensued.
I have been working in the heart of the pandemic as an emergency doctor since Covid hit New York. I have witnessed Covid-19 ravage and destroy communities. I have lost colleagues to Covid, and I also survived Covid.
After recovering I went back to continue serving my community. As the disease spread over the south and midwest United States, and its death toll grew, many Americans unfortunately continued to ignore the advice of healthcare professionals.
Those of us on the front line were eager for a magic bullet – the vaccine. My hospital prioritized the administration of the vaccine to high-risk providers and staff in the emergency department and ICU and it was offered to us on the first day it was available at my hospital.
As a pregnant woman, however, I didn’t want to jump in line the first day. I decided to wait to talk to my doctor and review the public data. This is what I found.
What do we know so far about the vaccine and pregnancy?
Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines didn’t have pregnant women in the study cohort at the beginning. However, some women ended up being pregnant during the study period. The risk of adverse events related to pregnancy were not increased in the vaccine group compared to the placebo group. Moderna also listed a combined developmental and perinatal/postnatal toxicity result that showed no adverse effects on female reproduction and fetal/embryonic development.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) also held an expert review and concluded that the vaccine shouldn’t be held from pregnant and lactating women.
How did I make my decision?
As a Black pregnant woman, compared to the general population, I am at increased risk of Covid-19 infection and death. As a healthcare provider in the front line, I am at increased risk acquiring Covid-19 infection, which I did already. Though recent studies give encouraging evidence that contracting Covid-19 may offer some protection against future infections, we know vaccines offer a better and long-lasting immunity. I made the informed decision and the choice to receive the vaccination based on all the existing data and discussion with my healthcare provider.
What does it mean for pregnant and lactating mothers?
Many pregnant women will have questions about the vaccine. They should discuss them with their healthcare providers to help inform their decision. If they decide to take the vaccine, they don’t need a clearance letter from their providers to avoid unnecessary delays in receiving the vaccine. Decades of mRNA research and the current evidence are sufficiently reassuring for me and many other healthcare workers who have been public about their decision. It is a personal choice. I believe in science and the protective power of vaccines. It is a privilege to be offered this vaccine before many around the world.
Dr Tsion Firew is an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, an emergency medicine physician at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving medical center, and a special adviser to the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia
Source: The Guardian
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