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Those who are considering becoming pregnant or those already pregnant may have a lot of questions when it comes to COVID-19, the vaccine to protect against the virus, and how the mother and the fetus will be affected. 

Dr. Carlos Quezada, OBGYN at Longview Regional Medical Center answers some questions. 

Q: Is it safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine if you are pregnant?

A: The COVID-19 vaccine is safe to get while you are pregnant. The three available vaccines out (Pfizer and Moderna-mRNA type and J&J) are considered safe, just like all recommended vaccinations during pregnancy. Other vaccinations we strongly recommend pregnant women get are the (tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis vaccine) Tdap vaccine and Flu shot during flu season.”

Q: Is it necessary?

A: As an OBGYN caring for the East Texas community, I strongly recommend pregnant women getting the COVID-19 vaccination. I am often asked why it is important to receive the vaccine, and that is because both healthy and unhealthy women that are pregnant have a much higher risk of being hospitalized for respiratory issues and other problems like higher risk of blood clot formation. The vaccine has proven to lessen the chance of getting covid (along with necessary precautions) but more importantly makes the chance of serious illness, if you do (get COVID) even less.

Q: Could a woman lose her baby if she gets the COVID-19 vaccine and she's pregnant?

A: Yes, a woman can lose a baby or miscarry but NOT because of the COVID-19 vaccine. After more than 138,000 women received the vaccine, the rate of miscarriage or stillbirth is the same as pre-COVID, pre-vaccination. The rate is the same as before the pandemic, not higher nor lower. Therefore, there is no correlation.

Q: If a pregnant woman gets COVID-19, could that affect the baby in any way and how?

A: The baby inside is highly dependent on the mother's health prior to birth. So as the mother goes, so does the baby. If the mother is not breathing well, being deprived of oxygen, need to be placed on a ventilator. That adversely impacts the baby too. Oxygen deprivation in sufficient quantities can adversely harm neurological function in babies.

Q: Does the vaccine cause the baby to be born with any sort of defects?

A: Receiving the vaccine does not allow the baby to be born with any sort of birth defects. It is important to also understand and educate yourself regarding the Pfizer and Modera vaccine facts and understand what are the mRNA based vaccines. While the SARS-CoV 19 or ‘COVID’ is new, the technology or idea is not. The mRNA vaccines are a specific protein sequence that the virus makes as part of its spike proteins. The vaccine introduces this protein into our bodies and it is typically gone in 72 hours, cleared—gone and no longer in you," said Quezada. "During that time, your hopefully healthy immune system takes snapshots, making the immune system wanted T-cell, antibodies) that direct security and police (immune cells, lymphocytes, monocytes, etc.) to attack this thing whenever it pops up. The vaccine creates an ALL POINTS BULLETIN or APB to tell your immune system this virus, should it show up as bad and how to destroy it. This mRNA sequence does not get into the part of the cell where our DNA is. It is not incorporated into the cells of developing babies. Bottom line, the COVID-19 vaccine does not cause birth defects, more than what otherwise would have occurred naturally.

Q: What happens if the mother is COVID-19 positive during the time of birth or a short time before giving birth? What risks do the mother or child face?

A: If a pregnant patient makes it without serious issues with covid but goes into labor during that time, the baby will have to be safely separated from the mom to avoid having the baby contract Covid. Unfortunately, that sometimes happens. The baby will need to be cared for by a responsible parent or family member that is NOT at risk of giving the baby COVID.

Q: Do the vaccines cause infertility? 

A: According to the Center for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC), there is no evidence currently that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause female or male fertility problems. 

Q: Can a pregnant mother bring a visitor to her ultrasound appointments?

A: At Longview Regional Medical Center, we are encouraging masking and COVID precautions. However, pregnant women are allowed to have one visitor to her ultrasound appointment. Currently, the hospital's visitor policy also supports that two people can attend and be present at the birth, it must be the same throughout the duration of the patient's stay and follow social distance/masking guidelines. At Longview Regional, it is our goal to make sure the birth experience is a joyful and special day as it was intended while keeping you, your family and baby safe.

This article originally ran on tylerpaper.com.

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