UW Doctor weighs in on COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy

Doctors and nurses have been treating COVID patients in ICU at Harborview for the last 10 months. With each patient, they are getting a better understanding of how COVID impacts people with other illnesses and health conditions.

“We know COVID is dangerous to pregnant women. They have an increased risk of ending up in the intensive care unit. They have an increased risk of needing intubation,” said Dr. Linda Eckert, an Obstetrics and Gynecology professor at University of Washington School of Medicine and physician at Harborview Medical Center.

As doctors learn more about the risks of COVID, they are offering guidance about the vaccine. The clinical trials for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have not enrolled pregnant women, but some participants have become pregnant during the process. They are watching them closely.

Researchers have been testing the vaccines on animals.

“We now have animal data where they gave the vaccine to pregnant animals, and then they look at what happens to the embryos and the pups. We haven’t seen any untoward effects,” said Eckert.

She says the way the mRNA vaccines work, they don’t think it crosses the placenta.

“We think that it’s degraded very quickly by your body’s own systems, which is partly why they have to surround it with fat particle in order to get it into your muscle and into your cells,” Eckert explained.

She says the decision on whether or not to get the COVID vaccine should be made by a pregnant woman and her doctor.