New study shows COVID-19 vaccines have no effect on placentas of women who receive them

Local experts say this makes them feel even more confident in the safety of the vaccine

Researchers announced more encouraging news this week for pregnant women hesitant about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

SAN ANTONIO – Researchers announced more encouraging news this week for pregnant women hesitant about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

A new study, released by Northwestern Medicine and published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, showed the COVID-19 vaccine had no effect on the placentas of women who got the vaccine.

“Seeing that there were no changes, no inflammation, no damage to the placenta makes us feel even better that we feel this is a safe vaccine,” said Dr. Shad Deering, who is the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Department Chair at the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio and the Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs at Baylor College of Medicine in San Antonio.

Deering said this study is more important than many people realize because it specifically studied the placenta; the so-called window into pregnancy.

“After delivery, they looked at the placenta under a microscope to see if there was any evidence of inflammation or any damage that could have occurred because of the vaccination,” Deering said.

Deering said the study, which compared women who did and did not get the vaccine, is a real game-changer when it comes to pregnancy safety because its an organ that develops in a woman’s uterus during pregnancy.

Additionally, the placenta provides oxygen and nutrients to a growing baby and removes waste products from the baby’s blood.

“The placenta is really everything, it’s everything to the baby,” Deering said. “It’s the interface that protects the baby, it’s the interface that feeds the baby.”

The women included in the study were mainly in their third trimester. Deering said he looks forward to future studies with more women who got the vaccine in the first and second trimesters.

“Having seen women who were affected with COVID and got really sick, we’re really excited for the opportunity to treat with the vaccine,” Deering said.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant individuals have access to COVID-19 vaccines and say COVID-19 vaccines should be offered to lactating individuals similar to non-lactating individuals.

Still, Dr. Deering understands women’s hesitancy in getting a new vaccine.

“Talk with your doctor about it,” Deering said. “Ask the questions. It’s okay to have questions.”

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About the Authors:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.