SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – One group of Utahns is still waiting for the green light to get a COVID-19 vaccine: pregnant and breastfeeding women. But a study at the University of Utah might help change that. 

Pfizer is beginning one of the first clinical trials including pregnant women and a vaccine and the U of U is participating. 

Dr. Torri Metz is one of the lead doctors on the research team; “We’re looking for healthy women between 27 and 34 weeks gestational age for this particular study, who will be delivering at the University of Utah.”

Dr. Metz has been asked repeatedly by her pregnant patients if they should get a COVID-19 vaccine and she says at this point, there hasn’t been enough data to make a clear recommendation. “Women are very interested in the safety of this vaccine in pregnancy and that’s been hard to answer because we don’t have safety data yet, but we’re starting to get some,” she said. 

For this Pfizer clinical trial, pregnant women will opt-in, then get either the vaccine or a placebo. At the end of the study, all women who received a placebo will be offered the vaccine. 

The CDC is already studying observationally pregnant or breastfeeding women who have access to the vaccine and choose to get it, like Melissa DeShazer. DeShazer works in healthcare so she was one of the first people in Utah to get it, just three months after giving birth to a little girl with major respiratory complications. “I read everything, I called my pediatrician, my OB, even the Health Department, to weigh the pros and cons, ” she says. 

Brittany Hale is a teacher and was offered the vaccine recently. So far she’s had one dose and is still breastfeeding her son; “For me the risks of getting COVID far outweigh the risks of the vaccine.”

Sara Southwick is a mother of two who says she was actually very vaccine-hesitant when her first was born. But learning more has helped her feel more comfortable and she’s now a vocal advocate for the COVID-19 vaccine. She’s counting down the days until she can get a dose. “While it’s a little scary to go into a vaccination situation and not feel 100% that we know the long-term possibilities, we already know that there are long-term risks of COVID-19.”

All three moms said that vaccination was a deeply personal decision, and they understand mothers choosing the opposite.

DeShazer says, “I can’t have judgement for that; as a mom you judge what is best for me and my family every single day, you protect your family however you think you can, and this is the choice I made to protect mine.”

If you are interested in being part of the clinical trial at the University of Utah, contact Emily Powers at 801-587-0640. To participate in the CDC’s observational research, contact your local health department.