When pregnant moms get COVID-19 vaccine, can they pass protection to their baby?

We took your questions to local maternal-fetal medicine director Dr. Patrick Ramsey

SAN ANTONIO – For over a week now KSAT has been asking for viewer questions about pregnancy and infertility during the pandemic.

Many of the questions had to do with getting the vaccine while pregnant. Some in particular asked whether on not immunity can be passed to your baby if you get the vaccine while pregnant.

Dr. Patrick Ramsey is the maternal-fetal medicine director working at both University Hospital and UT Health San Antonio. He helped answer those questions.

He, like most doctors and researchers around the world, is strongly recommending pregnant women get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.

“We’ve seen 10,000 plus women be pregnant, be immunized with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and have not seen any significant pregnancy complications with it. And we do know COVID-19 carries significant risks to mom and if mom doesn’t do well, baby. The vaccine is clearly the right answer,” he said.

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So, can the vaccine offer the added benefit of protecting the baby against COVID-19 as well?

“Based on what we know from other vaccines, the flu vaccine, the pertussis vaccine, when mom develops an immune response one of the antibodies they make is called an IGG type antibody and those antibodies cross through the placenta to the baby so there is strong evidence from these others vaccines that that antibody response will go into the baby and give baby some protection,” Ramsey said.

The Washington Post just reported Sunday, several preliminary studies suggest that women who received an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) during pregnancy had COVID-19 antibodies in their umbilical cord blood. It mentioned that another study detected antibodies in breastmilk, indicating that at least some immunity could be transferred to babies both before and after birth.

Dr. Ramsey said what researchers don’t know yet is how long that immune protection might last.

“We just don’t know how long the antibodies last in general in the general population, and in pregnancy we’re not certain if that’s going to have an impact on how long those antibodies last and how long will there be sustainable levels in the baby during the pregnancy,” he said.

Luckily, he says those answers may not be too far away.

“I think the big study that’s being done through Pfizer and likely some other companies, in pregnant women, will give us some of those insights because they are looking at cord levels and levels of antibodies in the baby out to several months,” he said.

In the meantime, KSAT is working to answer more viewer questions about vaccines during pregnancy, breastfeeding, delivery protocols, and infertility amid the pandemic.

If you have a question you’d like to ask, submit it here:


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