‘We have to protect our fetuses’: Utah doctor encourages expecting mothers to get vaccinated

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 11% of pregnant women are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In Utah, where vaccination rates slowly continue to climb, an Intermountain Healthcare doctor shares why the vaccines outweigh the risks of contracting the virus, for both mother and baby.

Immerging data is showing pregnant women who contract COVID-19 are at higher risk of miscarriage and pre-term birth, said Intermountain Healthcare’s Dr. Helen Feltovich, a maternal-fetal medicine physician.

“It really doesn’t matter whether you’re thinking about becoming pregnant, whether you’re early pregnant, or whether you’re in mid or late pregnancy, it doesn’t matter. Everyone should get the vaccine,” Dr. Feltovich said. “It’s clear, clear, crystal clear, that women and their fetuses fair worse in pregnancy if they get COVID.”

She said the potential for hospitalization remains high and said in the last week, she has had two pregnant women hospitalized because of the virus.

“In my clinic, I had to fly one person up from Southern Utah to my hospital, in a helicopter, because she needed to the tertiary center because of COVID,” Dr. Feltovich said. “Around her, the vaccination rate among pregnant women is almost 0%.”

“I had another unvaccinated patient that had to be admitted to the ICU,” she said.

Dr. Feltovich continued to say COVID-19 vaccines decrease a person’s chance of getting COVID-19.

“It terrifies me because I don’t want to go see pregnant women in the ICU anymore,” Dr. Feltovich said.

As new variants circulate, Dr. Feltovich pleads with women to get the shot, saying children are the future.

“Out of all the people to protect right now, we have to protect our fetuses and neonates against this,” she said.

Vaccine studies show no sign of concern, she said.

“The outcomes are being tracked very closely in pregnant women and so far, and right now, there is zero safety signal,” Dr. Feltovich said. “There has not been one single concerning report.”

In vaccinated expecting mothers, Dr. Feltovich said research shows promising results.

“Whether they’re enough in the right kind of antibodies to really prevent serious infection in neonates, we don’t know. What we do know, is that they aren’t harmful, and they are potentially protective and helpful,” she said.

Dr. Feltovich, along with other healthcare professionals, continues to study this topic. And for those women concerned about the vaccines, she encourages them to talk to their healthcare provider.

“Please get vaccinated, please talk to your provider, call us; we want to talk to talk about it, we want you to be informed to make the right choices for yourself,” she said.

ABC4 News reached out to the Utah Department of Health to find out how many pregnant women in Utah are fully vaccinated. A spokesperson said their system includes pregnancy status as a variable, but would not be able to track it across all vaccinations.

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