Local doctor answers questions about COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Many people, especially expectant mothers, still have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine after the administration of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine was temporarily paused by the CDC.

ABC13 took some questions to a doctor to find out what expecting mothers need to know about getting the shot and how safe it is, not just for them, but also for their unborn baby.

According to the most recent CDC figures, over 100,000 pregnant women reported receiving the vaccine.

The CDC says they stand by their guidance that was first issued in March, saying pregnant women should get the COVID-19 vaccine. This came after the CDC director originally said women should consult with their own doctors when asked about the vaccine.

We asked Dr. Sandra Hurtado, MD, an OBGYN with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, which vaccine is better for pregnant women.

"We have the most experience in the women who have elected to receive the vaccine during pregnancy in the MRNA vaccines, that's the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine," Dr. Hurtado said. "Since Johnson and Johnson just came out recently, and then obviously administration was stopped, we, therefore, don't have a lot of data in women who have received the Johnson and Johnson during pregnancy."

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We also asked if there are any known concerns for women who get the vaccine while pregnant.

"We say they may have a higher local reaction on the arm where they get the vaccine, but otherwise, all other side effects like headache and fatigue, fever are the same or similar," Dr. Hurtado said. "We did actually find that there was no risk of adverse pregnancy complications in those patients that had the vaccine."

UTHealth is currently conducting a study led by Dr. Hurtado for pregnant women on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. It's a national study that will enroll 4,000 women.

They need volunteers. If you are interested in participating, check to see if you meet these requirements:
  • Healthy women over the age of 18
  • Expecting one child
  • 24-34 weeks pregnant
  • Not previously diagnosed with COVID-19


For more information about the trial, call 713-486-6640 or visit the UTHealth website.

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Dr. Hurtado says getting the vaccine anytime during pregnancy, and even postpartum, is beneficial to the mother and the baby.

Getting the shot while pregnant, or even postpartum while breastfeeding, has shown the ability to pass antibodies to the baby, Dr. Hurtado says.

Women hoping to get pregnant also need to pay close attention, because the COVID-19 vaccine may change your menstrual cycle.

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