As COVID-19 surges in Dallas County, specialists at Parkland Health & Hospital System say it is vital to educate pregnant women and new moms about ways to give their infants the healthiest possible start in life by breastfeeding and getting vaccinated.
“I strongly recommend the COVID vaccine to our pregnant and lactating patients,” said Emily Adhikari, MD, Medical Director of Perinatal Infectious Diseases at Parkland and Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Yahaira Gallardo-Martinez, 25, of Dallas, gave birth to her third child on Aug. 6 at Parkland. She got vaccinated for COVID-19 in January on the advice of her physician.
“I was unsure about the vaccine at first, but I have kids, and I want to protect them from COVID. What parent doesn’t get worried?” she said. “My boy gets sick often, and I wouldn’t want him to catch COVID. Getting vaccinated helps protect all of us.”
According to Adhikari, “The risks of severe complications from COVID for pregnant women are high and can have devastating impacts on their baby. Data demonstrate vaccines are safe for pregnant women in all trimesters of pregnancy, safe for women who want to become pregnant, and in addition, vaccinated mothers pass COVID-19 antibodies to their breastfeeding babies, which may help protect them from COVID infection.”
Pregnant women who are positive for COVID-19 are at increased risk of severe complications and death. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says, “COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future.”
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends, “Pregnant individuals who have decided to wait until after delivery to be vaccinated may be inadvertently exposing themselves to an increased risk of severe illness or death. Those who have recently delivered and were not vaccinated during pregnancy are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”