Reston, VA

As the population pool eligible to receive vaccinations expanded in Fairfax County on Monday, some local pregnant women are mulling whether or not to receive the vaccine amid limited data on its safety during pregnancy.

So far, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated that pregnant women who are groups recommended to receive the vaccine — including healthcare personnel and frontline essential workers — can choose to get vaccinated. Pregnant women with COVID-19 have an increased risk of several illness.

But with limited data available on the effects of the vaccine on pregnancy, local obstetricians and hospitals are leaving the decision to expectant mothers.

Tina Dale, a spokeswoman for the Fairfax County Health Department, said that getting vaccinated is a “personal choice” for people who are pregnant.

“People who are pregnant and are eligible because they are in Phase 1a or 1b should consult with their OB/GYN in order to help make the best decision,” Dale told Reston Now.

The CDC has offered only general considerations for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

A Herndon woman, who asked to remain anonymous because she has not announced her first pregnancy yet, says she is not convinced there is enough research about the possible risks associated with the vaccine.

For now, she’s buckling down on wearing a mask in all social settings and at the small business she owns. She plans to deliver at Reston Hospital Center.

“I am working in my business under limited hours. It is very challenging because as a business owner, you want to be hands-on, by now my role has to shift a bit and more responsibilities go to my staff.”

Reston Hospital Center is also encouraging pregnant women to turn to doctors for advice. Some offer clear-cut answers while others leave the final decision to their patients.

“The hospital would recommend that pregnant women seek input from their personal OB/GYN and primary care physician,” wrote Todd McGovern, the hospital’s communications director, in a statement to Reston Now.

Kathryn Wiard, a Reston mother, says her doctors have recommended getting the vaccine. Although she says she’s on the fence, her ‘gut instinct’ says that she should get it.

I am less worried since the vaccine is mRNA based, and not a live virus strain. I will have an April delivery and with the covid numbers increasing, I am very anxious about going to the hospital in general, and while the vaccine isn’t perfect- it does provide a little bit more peace of mind,” Wiard said.

She plans to deliver at Reston Hospital Center in April. Whether she ultimately gets the vaccine or not, she plans to go through labor and delivery without the presence of her husband to protect her husband and toddler from COVID-19.

Her bigger worry is the safety risks associated with hospitals.

Regardless of the vaccine, the entire pandemic has me very wary of medical facilities, she says.

The CDC plans to formally study the effect of the vaccine on pregnant and lactating women in the coming weeks. 

Photo by Aditya Romasa/Unsplash

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