The Centers for Disease Control says new preliminary data shows that two COVID-19 vaccines appear to be safe for pregnant women.
The CDC study, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, found the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines "do not indicate any obvious safety signals with respect to pregnancy."
The CDC collected data from 35,691 pregnant women through its V-safe voluntary smartphone system. Researchers tracked their health after they got the Pfizer or Moderna shots between December 2020 and late February.
The data showed those who were vaccinated did not appear to have any greater risk of pregnancy complications.
"That's very encouraging, gives me a lot more confidence in talking to patients and saying, you know, women who never even had this vaccine have about the same stillbirth rate, the same miscarriage rate, the same likelihood of having a low birth rate," said Dr. Bill Isenberg, obstetrics and gynecology specialist who also serves as chief quality and safety officer for Sutter Health.
Isenberg says there are three reasons why he recommends pregnant women get the COVID vaccine.
First, he says pregnant women have lowered immune systems to begin with and are particularly high risk for serious illness because COVID-19 attacks the respiratory system.
"The only way that the baby is getting oxygen is from the mom breathing effectively. So, any condition that would compromise her ability to breathe like COVID pneumonia is problematic," said Isenberg.
Another concern is that treating COVID-19 in a pregnant woman can be more difficult.
"It's very difficult to resuscitate if the woman is pregnant, especially as a large abdomen which presses on the lungs that makes breathing that much more difficult," said Isenberg.
Doctors also say that vaccines can provide protection for the baby, although it's unclear whether there is optimal timing of the COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant women.
"We usually recommend, you know, waiting until the second trimester, for most vaccinations," said Dr. Isenberg.
"Honestly, I was kind of on the fence about it," said Hazel Zapanta, a Walnut Creek resident who decided to get the vaccine, "I said to myself it's for me and for the baby, so I did it."
The CDC, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have issued guidance saying Covid-19 vaccines should not be withheld from pregnant women. They also say all pregnant women should maintain masking and social distancing, even if they've been vaccinated.
Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU. Email Jana at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or ktvu.com.