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Newsday panel: Pregnant women, those seeking to get pregnant should get the COVID-19 vaccines

The CDC now recommends the vaccines for pregnant

The CDC now recommends the vaccines for pregnant women, so expectant mothers and women of childbearing years are debating what to do. Local medical experts discuss the latest findings and answer your questions. Panelists include Kimberly Herrera, MD, FACOG Clinical Assistant Professor Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Medicine, Stony Brook Medicine; and Mitchell S. Kramer, M.D.,FACOG, Chairman Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Huntington Hospital. Sign up for COVID-19 text alerts at newsday.com/text.

Whether you are pregnant — or are planning to be — it shouldn't alter your plans to vaccinate yourself against the coronavirus, experts on the latest NewsdayLive webinar said Wednesday.

That's because there's no hard evidence that getting inoculated can do anything but help you and your unborn child, the panelists said.

The experts said that while new data and research is constantly emerging, everything known about the vaccines in the United States shows they have no negative impact on fertility, pregnant women, their unborn children or on new mothers and their newborns.

The webinar titled "Pregnancy & COVID-19: Vaccine Questions Answered," featured Kimberly Herrera, clinical assistant professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Medicine at Stony Brook Medicine and Mitchell S. Kramer, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Huntington Hospital-Northwell Health.

As Kramer said: "While there has not been a tremendous amount of data available, [vaccination] research so far has shown it's safe — and that there should not be concerns for women of reproductive age."

Or, as Herrera said, when asked a question from a webinar participant about when someone pregnant — or seeking to get pregnant — should get vaccinated: "There really is no timeline. I would just recommend you get it."

So, what about the basics?

Even though there's evidence a vaccine dose might cause a temporary low-grade fever as the body builds antibodies, the experts agreed that is not a concern — even in pregnant women.

It's long-lasting high-grade fevers that are a concern and, the experts said, that's not a side effect of the vaccines.

There's also no evidence to suggest the two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, impact fertility, the experts said. In fact, Kramer said, that "myth" has "clearly been debunked at this point."

So have many other myths, the experts agreed.

Like the notion that COVID-19 can't cross the placenta from mother to the unborn child. Yes, it can, the doctors said, which is even more reason to get vaccinated. Antibodies built in the mother following vaccination can cross to the unborn child during pregnancy, strengthening immunity.

If anything, the experts said, new and prospective parents should be more concerned with the risks that contracting COVID might have on an unborn or newborn child, especially since pregnant women are often more vulnerable to illness.

The doctors said breastfeeding infants can also gain immunity from vaccinated mothers, though Kramer and Herrera agreed that once a child stops regular breastfeeding, that immunity can vanish in as little as one week.

Herrera and Kramer said parents should exercise all the common-sense precautions that have become a regular part of COVID-19 pandemic life — hand washing, mask wearing and social distancing guidelines — when allowing grandparents, siblings and other family around newborns.

Most hospitals now allow a non-vaccinated partner or spouse into delivery rooms to be with a birthing mother, the experts said, though they remain subject to all the current building-entry protocols such as temperature checks.

But the best advice remains to get vaccinated.

"As soon as possible," Herrera said.

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