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Sound Health is a recurring series that airs twice each month on WGLT's Sound Ideas program.Support for Sound Health comes from Carle Health, bringing care, coverage, support, healthcare research and education to central Illinois and beyond.

Sound Health: Getting The COVID Vaccine For Pregnant Women

US-Virus-Outbreak-Viral Questions-Vaccines-Pregnancy
Peter Hamlin/AP
What should I know about COVID-19 vaccines if I’m pregnant? AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin

An obstetrician in Normal says new guidance about the safety of COVID vaccines is reducing hesitancy among some pregnant women.

Dr. Nona Fulk chairs the OBYGN department at Carle BroMenn Medical Center in Normal. In this edition of WGLT’s Sound Health, Fulk said she recommends the vaccine, especially given the risks linked to COVID-19.

Nona Fulk
Dr. Nona Fulk

“Pregnant women can get COVID and when those women get COVID, the effects from it can be more severe than it is for anyone who is not. Pregnant women have a compromised immune system, so they are more likely to end up in the hospital, in the ICU, on a respirator, and the risk of death is higher for those women too,” Fulk said.

Fulk said data has shown few if any adverse reactions from pregnant women who received the COVID vaccine, but she said it will likely take longer-term testing before the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) fully endorses the vaccine's use for women. Fulk added studies have shown the COVID vaccines do not cause infertility, premature births or miscarriages.

J&J vaccine

Fulk said she recommends the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines for her clients, even though the CDC has removed its objections over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Fulk said she explains to patients the rare but serious blood clots associated with the J&J vaccine among women of birthing age.

“It’s still available to patients and if that’s the only (vaccine) they have available to them in the area, we are still saying it’s recommended. But if there’s another vaccine that’s available I as a physician would probably recommend you get the mRNA one,” Fulk said.

No baby boom

Fulk said Carle BroMenn hasn’t experienced the baby boom many predicted during the early stages of the pandemic when just about everyone was sheltering at home.

“Maybe there was a little hesitancy because when these big, worldwide events occur like 9/11, people think, do we want to bring a child into this world? Maybe some of that was going through their heads,” Fulk said.

According to data from Carle BroMenn, baby deliveries dropped 13% through March 2021 compared to the first four months of last year.

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