DETROIT – There’s new evidence that getting vaccinated against COVID while pregnant can also provide protection to the baby.
Experts said that protection might be especially important as mask mandates are lifted and newborn babies face more exposure from the people around them.
Right now, there’s no COVID vaccine for children under the age of five in the United States. Even if one is authorized soon, it will only be for children ages six months and up.
But for women who are pregnant now, a new student from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention suggests getting vaccinated can also help shield babies from the virus.
“The mom getting vaccinated is really the only way you can protect that baby, as far as giving it antibodies,” Dr. Sujatha Reddy said.
The study found babies of mothers who got two doses of either Moderna or Pfizer COVID vaccines during pregnancy were 61% less likely to be hospitalized with COVID in the first six months of their lives.
The protection appeared to be even higher among infants whose mothers were vaccinated later in pregnancy, experts said.
Researchers noted COVID antibodies are likely transferred across the placenta to the baby. Antibodies have previously been found in cord blood.
Experts said the vaccines also provide critical protection for those who are pregnant and increase their odds of a safe pregnancy.
“Pregnant women have a suppressed immune system, so they have higher risk of coronavirus and COVID complications, so vaccinating them is very important, but now we see, too, that by encouraging vaccines in pregnant women, you can help them give antibodies to their newborn, which -- every mom wants to protect their child,” Reddy said.
Vaccines for the flu and whooping cough are currently recommended for all women during pregnancy to help protect infants against those illnesses until they’re old enough to get vaccinated themselves.
Researchers said there’s not yet enough data to recommend an extra booster during pregnancy for those who are already fully vaccinated. But that’s something researchers will continue to study.