Should pregnant women be vaccinated for COVID-19? It depends, says doctor
Jennifer Blake says there isn't an area of concern for vaccine and pregnancy yet, but more data is coming
Vaccines for COVID-19 may pose a higher risk for pregnant women, but there's not enough data to prove it.
Jennifer Blake, the CEO of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, says it's difficult to recommend the COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant women because of the limited data.
She said that pregnant women who are working on the front lines or have underlying health issues, including high blood pressure, diabetes, lung or heart disease, should get the vaccine.
But women who aren't at high risk of getting COVID-19, or at high risk health-wise, can probably hold off on getting the vaccine until more information on how it impacts pregnancy is available.
"What we are telling pregnant women is the best advice we can give in the absence of that data," Blake said in an interview with CBC News.
Blake said it's common that medication and vaccines aren't tested in pregnancy because data from pregnancy isn't easily transferable. She said participants needed for that research are typically more protective of their health.
"It leaves us in a situation of having to give our best guess," she said.
She said it's good news that the COVID-19 vaccines aren't live, as those are of high concern for pregnant women and would not be recommended.
"It doesn't fall into that category of vaccinations that we would have reason to be concerned about," she said.
A few pregnant women have already received the vaccine, said Blake, which all went smoothly.
Pregnant women at higher risk overall
From what the society does know about the virus and pregnancy, pregnant women are at higher risk of experiencing serious symptoms from the virus.
"Something we've learned as the pandemic has gone on, is that women who are pregnant and who get COVID-19 do have some additional and very serious risks compared to women who aren't pregnant," said Blake.
"When a pregnant belly is pushing against your lungs, that's just an additional stress and of course the additional blood volume and stress on your circulation is something that is an issue."
She said the complications for pregnant women remain rare, but risks become more likely as the pregnancy moves along.
Blake said women with underlying health issues, including high blood pressure, diabetes, lung or heart disease, and who are older or overweight, are at a higher risk of facing serious complications.
She said the society expects to get more data from vaccine manufacturers and patient registries in the new year, which will help it better understand the safety of the vaccine for pregnant women.