Pregnancy is always a journey. Add in a pandemic and the complications multiply. Carly Marquis is the mother of a baby girl named Virginia she had in November of 2020. “I found out I was pregnant right as lockdown began,” Marquis said.
She says she was petrified of getting the virus and relieved when the vaccine came out. “I was so eager," Marquis said. "We were so excited, I remember just having the list of our immediate family in my mind and trying to think when everybody got their vaccines. I was doing the math of when we could all be together again.”
A large portion of Americans were eager for a vaccine, like Marquis, but not everyone. Just like the virus itself, misinformation has been spreading rapidly – causing confusion and doubt. That’s what inspired Dr. Randy Morris to start collecting data on his patients. Dr. Morris is Medical Director of IVF1 and the Naperville Fertility Center and Associate Clinical Professor of Reproductive Endocrinology at the University of Chicago.
“We compared three groups -- people who were vaccinated, people who had previously been infected, and people that had neither been infected or vaccinated -- compared their pregnancy rates to no great surprise," Dr. Morris said. "There was no difference in those three groups. We further looked at things like miscarriage risk. And we also found no difference from those groups.”
He says his study proves there is no negative impact of the vaccine on the mother or her unborn child. As for males, Dr. Morris says a separate study has shown there was no difference in semen analysis on men who had been vaccinated. Conversely, he says a number of small studies suggest infection with COVID-19 might interfere with male fertility.
“So, ironically, vaccination in men might actually protect their fertility rather than cause any harm,” Dr. Morris said.
He says he strongly recommends the COVID-19 vaccine for both males and females. So does Dr. Tara Shirazian, an associate professor of OBGYN at NYU Langone Health.
“You know, pregnant women do get vaccines, by the way, this is not unheard of," Dr. Shirazian said. "We vaccinate routinely against T-Dapp. We vaccinate routinely against flu.”
Dr. Shirazian says not only is there no biological evidence the vaccine causes issues with fertility, but she says it’s also extremely important for pregnant women to get vaccinated.
“COVID-19 disease in pregnancy is a severe disease," Dr. Shirazian said. "And so women who are pregnant are more likely to be hospitalized, to be intubated or even to die of COVID than non-pregnant women of the same age.”
That’s one reason why Tiffany Martinez got vaccinated while pregnant with her daughter who is now 4 months old.
“There were no evident risks to the vaccine or no significant risks, but there was obviously a lot of risk to getting COVID when you were pregnant to both my own health and the baby's health,” Martinez said.
She says she was a little hesitant until her doctor strongly recommended the vaccine.
"By that time, several million people in the country had been vaccinated. So, there was, I think, sufficient evidence to make me feel safe," she said.
She was reassured she would be protecting herself, her family, and her newborn.
“Pregnant women produce antibodies and antibodies are like the army that the body has to protect itself against COVID," Dr. Shirazian said. "These antibodies can cross the placenta and actually be given to the infant. They automatically can go to the infant. And therefore, when the infant is born, he or she will have antibodies or protection against COVID.”
The vaccine wasn’t available yet when Marquis had her baby. However, she got vaccinated while breastfeeding and was able to pass on some antibodies through her breastmilk.
“If anything, I felt like I was protecting her more by getting the vaccination,” Marquis said.
Now, both Marquis and Martinez are urging other mothers to also get vaccinated.
“I always want to do what's best for them," Martinez said. "And I believe in science. We have the research to back up what doctors are saying."
“It's worth it to do something that might protect your child from something that's so scary right now,” Marquis said.