Weighing the risks, pregnant P.E.I. nurse declines COVID-19 vaccine

While many of us are anxiously awaiting our turn to get a COVID-19 vaccine, a P.E.I. nurse who received the call last week has decided the time is not right for her.

‘That’s the problem. There isn’t any data out there.’

Megan Murphy is not anti-vaccine, she did receive the flu vaccine this fall, but decided not to get the COVID-19 vaccine. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

While many people are anxiously awaiting their turn to get a COVID-19 vaccine, a P.E.I. nurse who received the call last week has decided the time is not right for her.

Megan Murphy, a licensed practical nurse in a long-term care home, is five months pregnant.

"It kind of all happened very suddenly. I wasn't expecting the rollout to happen as quick as it did," said Murphy about receiving the call last Tuesday.

"Fortunately it had been on my mind for a while so I had known my decision prior to receiving my phone call."

And that decision was no, a decision made complicated by the lack of data about the vaccine and pregnancy.

A difficult balance

Credible information was difficult to find, she said, but one thing was clear. Pregnant people had been excluded from clinical trials.

"That's the problem. There isn't any data out there," said Murphy.

Megan Murphy, here with husband Andrew Murphy, says with little information to go on it was difficult to make a decision about a COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant. (Fotomagic Studios)

"There is no factual information for me to make a decision."

But she is also aware being pregnant makes her more vulnerable to coronavirus.

"I'm weighing that between knowing that if I did get the virus I'm going to have more severe outcomes, versus the unknown of vaccinating myself," she said.

Murphy said she is not anti-vaccine. She did receive the flu vaccine while pregnant, and she has not ruled out getting a COVID-19 vaccine before her baby is born.

"I think when more information is made available it would be easier for me to make another decision. It's just at this point, this early on, there hasn't been, literally, any data," she said.

'Just one part'

The vaccine is not mandatory for healthcare workers on P.E.I. and Murphy will continue working as she has been.

That means continuing to take other precautions, including changing in and out of her work scrubs at work, wearing PPE, and observing enhanced hygiene practices.

"[The vaccine] is a big part, but it is just one part when it comes to virus prevention and control," she said.

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada has issued a statement on vaccination during pregnancy, acknowledging that the vaccine hasn't been tested on pregnant and breastfeeding people yet.

"For individuals who are at high risk of infection and/or morbidity from COVID-19, it is the SOGC's position that the documented risk of not getting the COVID-19 vaccine outweighs the theorized and undescribed risk of being vaccinated during pregnancy or while breastfeeding and vaccination should be offered," the statement said.

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With files from Island Morning