CDC and local pediatrician encourage COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant and breastfeeding women

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 7:16 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Pregnant and breastfeeding women have some of the lowest vaccination rates, according to Aspirus Health.

Some believe it’s because there wasn’t research on how it impacts them early on. But, now the CDC said it’s “more urgent than ever” for pregnant and breastfeeding women to get the COVID-19 vaccine. An Aspirus pediatrician agreed.

“I was breastfeeding when I got my vaccine before we had any safety data. Now we know, not only is it safe for both mom and baby or mom and fetus. It is imperative,” said Dr. Amy Falk, General Pediatrician at Aspirus.

Antibodies from the mother who received the vaccine, transfer to the fetus to help them not get sick once they are born.

“Babies do get some antibodies through breast milk, but it’s not nearly as protective or long-lasting as if they were to get it from a pregnant mother,” said Falk.

Antibodies from breast milk mostly stay in the gut. That means they don’t last as long and are not as effective as if the mother got the vaccine while pregnant.

“The mode of transmitting the antibodies is different because while pregnant, mom and baby share some degree of circulation through the placenta. And so mom can pass antibodies through her blood into the placenta and across the placenta into the baby,” said Michael Beninati, Assistant Professor of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and Surgical Critical Care at the University of Wisconsin.

The protection lasts up to a year in newborns. But antibodies from breast milk are still beneficial. Aspirus Breast Milk Program has received calls with requests for specific breast milk that contains antibodies.

“Typically the recipients of the milk or the parents who want to use the donor breast milk are actually wanting milk from mothers who have been either vaccinated or maybe have had COVID infection in the past and might have some natural antibodies,” said Chris Hanke, RN Care Coordination Navigator.

However, they currently do not separate milk that comes from vaccinated versus non-vaccinated people.

Falk encourages you to talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about getting the vaccine while pregnant or breastfeeding.

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