COVID-19 vaccination: Pregnant women pass immunity against coronavirus to their babies

Pregnant woman
Pregnant women show strong immune response to COVID-19 vaccines

A week after getting the first shot of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer, Janice a first-time mom-to-be in London, Ontario, still feels anxious. However, a recent study suggested that mRNA based COVID-19 coronavirus vaccines produced strong humoral immunity in pregnant and lactating women. The response was similar to that of women who had not conceived or given birth. The study results should calm Janice down. Also Read: Coronavirus and Pregnancy: Bringing new life into the world during COVID-19 pandemic

The study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology is believed to be pathbreaking as pregnant women were not included in the mRNA based vaccine trials. Data about the efficacy of the vaccines was missing in this particular set of population. Also Read: COVID-19 and Pregnancy: Nine things to know about coronavirus if you are pregnant

The study found that COVID-19 vaccines were capable of protecting babies by finding its way into breast milk and passing to the umbilical cord. The study enables doctors to give proper medication and COVID-19 related counselling to expecting mothers. The research demonstrated that newborns do get protection from vaccinated mothers but the duration of the immunity is still unknown. Also Read: COVID-19: Are pregnant women more vulnerable to severe coronavirus infection?

There have been positive reports of mothers showing anti-bodies against the virus after getting Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine two to three weeks before delivery. Doctors have also detected umbilical cord’s blood antibodies to the S-protein of SARS-CoV-2  at the time of delivery. Also Read: COVID-19: Older and overweight pregnant women more likely to get infected with coronavirus

It is widely known that a mother’s immune response is suppressed during pregnancy to avoid complications like rejection of the baby, and hence there was a raging debate on the effect vaccines would have on newborns. However, the new study has proven that the mothers do post a strong response.

United States CDC recently updated its guidelines to confirm that pregnant women are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 than non-pregnant women. They are more likely to be admitted into ICUs and require oxygen. Pregnant women are also three times more likely to need invasive ventilation. Additionally, pregnant women belonging the certain ethnic groups like Hispanic, are more than twice as likely to die from the coronavirus.

The study only looked at vaccination at the third trimester of pregnancy and further research is still in progress to find the best timing of getting the jab. In the meantime, it makes sense to get the vaccination as and when it becomes available.

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