Photo courtesy of Abbie Kamin
Just reaching nine months and pregnant for the first time, there are all kinds of things I’m nervous about. From whether I’m eating the right food and exercising enough, to whether I have everything I need in my hospital bag, and of course, what labor is going to be like.
But one of the biggest concerns has been the threat of COVID-19. As pregnant women, we are much more vulnerable if we contract COVID-19. We’re more likely to end up in the intensive care unit and on life support, and there are other adverse outcomes being reported, including possibly pre-term labor. For these reasons, pregnancy is included in the State of Texas’s 1B criteria for eligibility to receive the vaccine.
It’s a tremendous comfort I’m a patient at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women® receiving some of the best prenatal care in the country. One way I’m making sure I do everything I can to bring a healthy and thriving child into our world is by receiving care under the guidance of Dr. Codi Wiener at The Women’s Specialists of Houston. But, it is on all of us, not just our incredible health care providers, to care for ourselves and our families.
As a City Council Member, I hear from a lot of people and I understand some of the hesitancy and concerns pregnant women, specifically, may have about getting vaccinated.
When I was considering getting the vaccine, I did my research and spoke with Dr. Wiener and other health care experts, including Dr. Kjersti Aagaard, maternal-fetal medicine specialist at the Pavilion for Women, who also has a background in immunology. Additionally, Texas Children’s Obstetrician and Gynecologist-in-Chief, Dr. Michael Belfort, and Drs. Lisa Hollier and Mark Turrentine from the Pavilion for Women answered the most commonly asked questions about pregnancy, breastfeeding and COVID-19 vaccines. Even The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says there’s no reason to believe pregnant women should not receive the vaccine – especially given the specific risks that COVID-19 poses to us. The vaccine is not the virus itself; it creates a roadmap for our bodies to defend against the symptoms of COVID-19. It’s the same technology that was used in combatting Zika, another virus that had a disproportionate and devastating effect on pregnant women and fetuses.
I weighed the risks of contracting COVID-19, the information I got from medical experts (and not to mention, the fact that there are a slew of other vaccines we get during pregnancy), and decided to get the COVID-19 vaccine. For me, the decision was about protecting myself, my family and my future child. I wish I could bring my child into a world where this pandemic is behind us, but I will continue to do everything I can to protect our family and our community – starting with getting the vaccine.
I received my first dose of the Moderna vaccine a month ago at a Houston Health Department community clinic. I was joined by other pregnant women and new moms who are breastfeeding. My arm was a bit sore for a day, but I had no other side effects. A sore arm, or even some of the possible 24-hour symptoms I had with the second dose, is still nothing compared to being in a hospital on a ventilator with COVID.
Texas Children’s is now vaccinating patients who qualify, including pregnant women. For a list of frequently asked questions and other resources, visit women.texaschildrens.org/covidvaccine.
Every woman has the right to make her own decisions about her body, and I want to encourage everyone to speak with your own healthcare provider about getting this vaccine. Make sure you understand the science behind it.
I have chosen what’s right for me. I am so grateful for all our health care workers and staff have done to hold the line and protect patients from the dire impacts COVID-19 can have. What they have witnessed this past year is unfathomable. They are heroes.
Because of the significant risk COVID-19 presents to pregnant women, please consider taking this important step to protect yourself and your family.