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UW Medicine study finds pregnant women do well with COVID-19 vaccines

The study's findings support that women tolerate the vaccine well and they should be included in clinical trials for other relevant vaccines.

SEATTLE — Pregnant and lactating women who received the COVID-19 vaccine did not experience symptoms any more severe than their non-pregnant counterparts, according to a study done by UW Medicine in Seattle. 

The study looked at 17,525 people who responded to a survey asking them to describe their reactions after receiving at least one dose of the vaccine. Forty-four percent of the women who responded were pregnant, 38% were lactating and 15% said they had plans to get pregnant in the near future. 

The study was published Tuesday in JAMA Network Open, a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) formally recommended that all pregnant women get vaccinated against the coronavirus. 

Dr. Linda Eckert, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Washington School of Medicine and the study's senior author, said the findings show that women tolerate the vaccine well and they should be included in clinical trials for other relevant vaccines.

“I’m not surprised but I am pleased by the outcome. It’s further evidence that the vaccine is safe and well-tolerated in pregnant individuals,” Eckert said. 

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The majority of individuals in the study, 62%, received the Pfizer vaccine. Ninety-one percent of respondents reported experiencing pain at the vaccine injection site, 31% reported fatigue and a mean temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit after the shot. A small group, 5-7%, reported a decrease in milk supply after the vaccination, according to the study. 

Pregnancy increases the chance for complications from COVID-19 but a fraction of pregnant women have received the vaccine. The CDC reported that 23% of pregnant women in the U.S. were vaccinated as of the end of July. The percentage is even lower among Black and Latina women. 

Eckert said she hopes the data from UW Medicine will be "another reassuring piece of information about why pregnant individuals need to get vaccinated against COVID-19."

“Not only is the vaccine safe, our research shows just how well the vaccine is tolerated in pregnant individuals—which is a common fear I hear from my patients," Eckert continued. "In contrast, we are continuing to learn more and more about just how dangerous COVID-19 infections are in pregnancy."

The study by UW Medicine is ongoing. There are currently 20,000 women enrolled in the study and new respondents continue to post their experiences, according to UW. Individuals can register for the study by clicking here

Aside from the CDC v-safe registry, UW's is the largest U.S. study on the issue of pregnancy and COVID-19 vaccines, according to UW Medicine. Canada has also created a similar study