The COVID-19 Vaccine and Surrogate Pregnancy: What You Need to Know

Coronavirus Vaccine & Surrogate Pregnancy Guidelines

The news of effective vaccines for COVID-19 has given many of us hope that we may soon be able to stop the spread of the coronavirus and get back to our normal way of life. But women who are currently pregnant, trying to conceive, breastfeeding, or preparing for a Surrogate pregnancy have one more thing to think about when deciding whether or not to get the coronavirus vaccine:

Is the coronavirus vaccine safe for my health, my surrogate child, or the baby I’m carrying during pregnancy?

What experts recommend

According to the fertility experts of the American Society for Reproductive Medicines (ASRM), the available coronavirus vaccines are very safe during pregnancy and the same goes for would-be Surrogate Mothers.

In fact, women who are pregnant or trying for pregnancy are even urged to receive the vaccines, as per the organization’s recent update on COVID-19 and its impacts on conception and pregnancy.

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Coronavirus vaccines offer great protection to pregnant women and their families

It’s true that some people still have doubts about the COVID-19 vaccines. However, recent polls have shown that an increasingly large number of Americans are looking to take the vaccines once they are available.

According to renowned epidemiologists like Dr. Anthony Fauci, around 75-85% people of the American population needs to be vaccinated before the United States can achieve a “herd immunity” against coronavirus outbreaks.

“If you have a highly efficacious vaccine, and only 50% of the country gets vaccinated, you are not going to have that umbrella of protection of herd immunity,”

Fauci said in a Facebook live discussion in November last year.

The COVID-19 vaccines should also be safe for Surrogates who are pregnant and those who are preparing for pregnancy (embryo transfer). After all, the physical symptoms of pregnancy that Surrogates experience are not different from what other pregnant women go through.

As with any other pregnancy, the expectant Surrogate is required to keep taking some medications, such as estrogen and progesterone hormones essential for surrogacy, to make sure the child develops properly.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recommends that clinicians make decisions regarding giving COVID-19 vaccines based on their best judgment and the specific needs of each patient.

Here are other recommendations for the ASRM’s taskforce update:

Do not refuse to give women the coronavirus vaccine because of pregnancy

Doctors are advised not to withhold the vaccines from women who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or breastfeeding a child – which is in tune with the guidance provided by other professional healthcare associations.

Pregnant women should receive the vaccine when they are qualified to do so

The ASRM urged pregnant women or those undergoing fertility treatment to take the COVID-19 vaccine depending on the eligibility criteria, including age, underlying medical conditions, and front-line employment.

Since the coronavirus vaccine is not a “live virus” vaccine, there’s no reason to stop trying to get pregnant or postpone fertility treatment until the patient has gotten the second vaccine dose.

The decision to get vaccinated for COVID-19 should be between the patient and the doctor

The decision of whether or not to take the vaccine should be made by the doctor and the patient, bearing in mind the medical ethical principles of beneficence, non-maleficence, and autonomy.

The decision to take the vaccine should be based on the relevant risk factors and local conditions

There are many factors to consider when deciding whether or not to get vaccinated.

Some of these factors are

  • local transmission risk
  • personal factors that can raise the probability of getting the disease
  • chances of the patient or her baby get infected with COVID-19 and
  • adverse effects and efficacy of the vaccines.

The patient and her doctor also need to consider the fact that there is no much data regarding the impact of the coronavirus vaccine during pregnancy.

Coronavirus mRNA vaccines don’t pose risks to reproductive health like “live virus” vaccines do

Both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are mRNA vaccines.

They don’t contain the “live virus,” which means that they do not have many of the risks associated with live-virus vaccines, such as fertility issues, miscarriage, or genetic disorders.

People who are likely to have severe allergic reactions should take extra precautions when getting one of the coronavirus vaccines.

A lipid nanoparticle used in the Pfizer vaccine and several other injectable medications is known to cause an allergic reaction in some people. Hence, extreme caution should be taken when administering the vaccine to people who have had an allergic reaction to other vaccines or injectable drugs in the past.

Pregnant women were not included in the human vaccine trials

Even though most of the ASRM’s COVID task force members agree that the protective benefits offered by the COVID-19 vaccines far outweigh the risks of getting vaccinated for pregnant women, the fact is that the vaccines were never tested in these women.

For this reason, doctors and patients are advised to consider the risks of taking the vaccine against the risks it may pose to patients, the baby, and family members who are not yet vaccinated.

Holding back wouldn’t be a good idea as pregnant women are at a higher risk of COVID-19

Before discussing the effect of the COVID-19 vaccine on pregnancy, let’s take a look at the COVID-19 pregnancy statistics in the last year. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control shows why pregnant women should be extremely cautious with public health measures like social distancing.

  • Total COVID-19 cases during pregnancy in the U.S.: 49,036
  • Total maternal deaths from COVID-19 illness: 60
  • Hospitalizations required during pregnancy due to COVID-19: 9,074
  • Pregnant women who needed ventilators during hospitalization: 85

The above figures clarify that contracting coronavirus during pregnancy or surrogacy significantly raises hospitalization risk and severity.

Additional data given by COVID-NET, in partnership with the CDC, states the hospitalization rate for pregnant women at about 28.2%. With that, expectant mothers now fall into the highest risk category, along with the elderly and those with immunity deficiencies.

Caution is still important!

While we are waiting to receive the vaccines and go back to a more normal way of life this year, it is crucial not to let our guards down too early.

Even with the quick rollout of the two vaccines and the ones on the way, the logistics of vaccinating an adequate amount of people against the deadly virus means that we should still keep following safe practices to remain protected for the next couple of months.

Moreover, there are still many things we don’t know about the effectiveness of the vaccines and the level of protection they offer. As we’re reminded by the ASRM update:

(i) It is still unknown whether a vaccinated person can transfer COVID-19 to another person if they get infected with SARS-COV-2.

(ii) It takes some time to develop protective immunity against the coronavirus.

(iii) While the Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective against the development of COVID-19, it still does not offer 100% immunity.

So, we implore you to remain careful for a little while longer. Remember to wear a protective mask, wash your hands regularly, and practice social distancing.

Bottom line

Currently, there are no clinical data to back up the assumption that pregnant women taking the COVID-19 vaccine are at an increased risk, and that includes Surrogates who may be worrying about safety concerns or the possible side effects.

If you want to see whether you qualify to become a Surrogate, simply sign up and fill out an application and find out within 72 hours.

If you have more questions regarding the coronavirus vaccine and surrogate pregnancy, get in touch through our chat option.

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