The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists announced Friday that it “recommends that all eligible persons, including pregnant and lactating individuals, receive a covid-19 vaccine or vaccine series. “
Obstetrician-gynecologists and other women’s health care practitioners should lead by example by being vaccinated and encouraging eligible patients to be vaccinated as well the organization said.
Referred to as a “Practice Advisory” according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website, it was developed by a public health expert work group in collaboration with physicians across the country.
Those doctors included Dr. Richard Beigi, president of UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital in Oakland. He is part of team that helped design the trial that Magee-Womens and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Oakland are participating in.
The advisory comes a week after Beigi and Pitt began enrolling patients in this national trial from Western Pennsylvania. The local women and their babies, along with others from 19 sites nationally, will be part of a study by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the immune response to covid-19.
“There is some data about the safety of the vaccine for pregnant and postpartum women and their babies, but we need more,” Beigi said. “We are continually learning about covid-19, and we have reason to believe that covid-19 is not going away anytime soon.”
The research will be ongoing, Beigi said.
Courtesy of UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital
UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital president Dr. Richard Beigi
The trial will test for antibodies in the blood of moms and babies as well as from breast milk.
Beigi said it is difficult to know how many of pregnant women have been vaccinated. To help give women an opportunity to receive vaccines, Magee-Womens has been hosting vaccination clinics at the hospital for expectant mothers and postpartum women an opportunity to get a covid-19 shot or shots.
Pregnancy increases covid risks
While there is limited research and data about the effects of the vaccine on these women, there is information to support pregnancy to be considered a high-risk factor for covid-19 infection. That’s because pregnant women have a higher likelihood of worse outcomes — including death — than their non-pregnant peers with covid-19.
Severe covid-19 during pregnancy can put the baby at risk for complications, including pre-term birth.
“We are eager to get started with this research,” said Beigi, who continually advocates for these women to be included in trials and research.
The study is called “MOMI-VAX.” It “will evaluate the development and durability of covid-19 antibodies in individuals who receive, or who have already received, a vaccine while pregnant or during the first two months postpartum,” according to Magee-Womens.
The study will also assess vaccine safety and the transfer of antibodies to infants across the placenta and through breast milk.
Beigi said having additional data will help doctors better understand covid-19 and provide more science-based guidelines, which can lead to clearer protocols.
Investigators across the study sites will enroll up to 750 pregnant women and 250 postpartum women within two months of delivery who have received, or will receive, one of the three covid-19 vaccines available in the U.S., according to UPMC.
For a year after delivery, participants and their infants will provide blood samples to assess and measure vaccine-induced antibodies, and the transfer of these antibodies across the placenta.
Other vaccines approved may be studied in the future as part of this research.