Pregnant women urged to discuss vaccine risks, benefits with doctor

DETROIT – One of the groups carefully weighing the risks and benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines is pregnant women.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women are not excluded from receiving the vaccine, but health experts are urging those women to speak with their doctors beforehand.

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“We have cared for many many women who have become very sick with the COVID virus in pregnancy,” said Dr. Amy Whitten. ”Pregnant women are at higher risk for having complications related to the virus, like hospitalization and needing ICU care.”

Whitten is a maternal and fetal medicine specialist at Beaumont Royal Oak. She said pregnant and breastfeeding women were not included in the vaccine clinical trials.

Major organizations, like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, support vaccine use in those groups.

“My guidance to my patients is that while the vaccine wasn’t studied specifically in pregnant women, women who did become pregnant after receiving the vaccine had outcomes that were similar to those who were not vaccinated,” Whitten said. “My healthcare worker colleagues who are pregnant and breastfeeding who’ve had the opportunity to take the vaccine, you know, the vast majority have done it.”

She urges women to talk about their personal risks and benefits with their doctors. That’s exactly what Clarkston-native Dana Houston-Jones did.

“I am pregnant, so knowing that I am in the higher risk category to develop potentially some of the more severe symptoms of COVID, it just gets me really nervous about being exposed for my job, and what that could mean for my health and for the health of my baby,” Houston-Jones said.

After doing her own research too, she plans to get the vaccine as soon as she can.

“I am more anxious about what getting COVID would mean versus what the unknowns of a vaccine would mean,” Houston-Jones said. “Overall, I’m going to err on the side of trusting what my doctors and the professionals are recommending.”

About the Author:

Kimberly Gill joined the Local 4 News team in November 2014. She was named Personality of the Year in 2009 by the Ohio Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame. She’s also a two-time Emmy winner.