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Doctor dispels myths surrounding COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy

According to MSDH, there have been 109 pregnant women hospitalized with COVID-19 in Mississippi since the start of the pandemic. Six of them have died.
Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 7:41 PM CDT
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SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Obstetrician Dr. Alisha Ware has heard all kinds of false rumors about what COVID-19 vaccinations will do to pregnant women, from causing stillbirths to changing the DNA of their children.

It is all false.

“The biology of this vaccine is more complicated than some other vaccines that we’ve seen, and so I think there is a lot of misunderstanding,” Ware said last week from her Biloxi office. “Not everybody uses their high school biology lessons every day. So it’s kind of complicated for the layperson to understand.”

That lack of understanding has led to tragic results.

Last week, two pregnant Mississippi women died from COVID-19.

Neither had been vaccinated.

State medical officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs was very clear about that in a call to Coast business leaders last week.

“If those people had been vaccinated, they would not be dead,” he said.

Studies have found that unvaccinated pregnant women who get COVID-19 are more likely to become seriously ill and have complications that could threaten the life of their unborn child.

According to the state department of health, there have been 109 pregnant women hospitalized with COVID-19 in Mississippi since the start of the pandemic. Six of them have died.

Because pregnant women were not included in initial vaccine studies, doctors like Singing River Health System’s Ware were unable to provide much guidance to their patients.

“When the vaccines first came out and people asked me about the safety, I said we don’t have any data,” she said. “Not that you shouldn’t get vaccinated or that it wasn’t going to be safe, but that I would support them either way because I didn’t have anything to go on.”

That has since changed.

“Now we have lots of people who have been vaccinated during pregnancy, before pregnancy and there’s not any reason in these thousands and thousands of administered vaccines to think that there is going to be a problem during pregnancy,” Ware said.

In the last three weeks, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the CDC have issued recommendations for pregnant women to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Still, concerns and rumors persist.

Ricky Ryals was being treated recently for COVID-19 at one of Memorial Hospital at Gulfport’s infusion clinics when he talked about his family’s decision to not be vaccinated. The couple has a one-year-old daughter.

“It was a decision my wife and I made together,” Ryals said. “The more we talked about it, we decided not to get it for the simple fact that if we did want to have more kids, we thought there needed to be a little bit more info on the vaccination and the causes down the road.”

Dr. Ware said she has heard this concern often.

“There is no reason to think this is going to effect fertility,” she said.

Another common internet myth suggested that the mRNA vaccines targeted the same protein that women used to develop a placenta.

“There was no science involved in that,” Ware said. “That was a theoretical question and it has really been debunked by the thousands of people that have gotten pregnant since getting their vaccines.”

What has been proven is the bonus for the baby if their mother has been vaccinated.

Antibodies from mothers are transferred in breast milk,” she said. “And so if mom’s get vaccinated during pregnancy or while they are breastfeeding, then those antibodies are going to be transferred to the baby and provide passive immunity for the baby.”

In an effort to encourage vaccines for women who had been hesitant while they were pregnant Memorial Hospital at Gulfport is now offering post-partum vaccinations.

More than 100 pregnant women have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in Mississippi. OBGYN Dr. Don Gaddy joins us with more.

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