MILWAUKEE — As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues, pregnant women face a decision to get vaccinated.
23-year-old Samantha Vanderlin is nearly nine weeks into her first pregnancy and preparing to make that choice.
"It's like what's best for your child. Then it's like what's best for you," said Vanderlin. "I think it's a good idea, but I'm actually just nervous about getting the vaccine when you're pregnant because it's one of those things where it's still new."
Vanderlin plans to talk it over with her obstetrician, Dr. La Kesha Lawrence, at Milwaukee Health Services.
While citing the technology behind the COVID-19 vaccines, the latest research and known risks and benefits, Dr. Lawrence said the COVID-19 vaccines are safe for women who are pregnant.
Doctors, along with the Centers for Disease Control, say pregnant women have an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared to those who are not pregnant, and expectant moms who contract the virus may face a higher risk of pregnancy complications.
"Based on the observational data and current trials in which patients have been able to be enrolled in while becoming pregnant or getting the vaccinations in pregnancy, all the observations have shown the overall risk factors are those vaccinations are safe," Dr. Lawrence said.
"It just provides a level of immune response that the mom needs so she can become immune to the virus because this is not a live vaccine," said Lawrence.
Online community forums geared toward expectant moms show women are mixed on getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
Dr. Lawrence said she hears a lot of apprehension from patients, but there is also a lot of misinformation on vaccines. She works to help women get to the facts.
"I want to support her decision, but I also want to make sure that the decision she makes is definitely one that comes from evidence-based. So we have a conversation with regards to the safety of the vaccine, how the vaccine works," said Dr. Lawrence.
Dr. Lawrence advocates pregnant patients get the COVID-19 vaccine, but the decision is a personal one.
Pregnant women were not included in the initial vaccine clinical trials, but studies focused on pregnant women are underway or planned.
If you are pregnant and deciding whether to get the vaccine, the CDC recommends you consider your risk of exposure to the virus, risk of severe illness, known benefits of vaccination, and the growing evidence of safety during pregnancy.