NORFOLK, Va. – Women will soon know what to expect when they’re expecting.
Researchers at Tidewater Clinical Research are studying how safe and effective the COVID-19 vaccine is in pregnant women.
Dr. Frank Morgan is the principal investigator for the clinical trial in Norfolk.
“We’re doing other studies with vaccines and pregnancy, and this is just another one of those to give the mother and the fetus the multiple protection - not only during the pregnancy, but after the baby is born, too,” Morgan said.
According to Morgan, expectant moms are at a higher risk of developing severe symptoms from COVID-19 because of their suppressed, vulnerable immune systems during pregnancy.
“Certainly, if you get COVID and you get sick, that’s a lot higher risk than if you get the vaccine,” he said. “There’s a question of whether there’s an increased risk of premature delivery when you get COVID, especially if it’s severe.”
Tidewater Clinical Research, an affiliate of Mid-Atlantic Women’s Care, is looking for qualified pregnant patients to take part in the vaccine study across its 40 sites nationwide.
Participants must first be a patient of the office and deliver at one of its designated hospitals. The women also have to be at least 18 years old, must be healthy and must be between 24 and 34 weeks into their pregnancy.
“They stayed away from the first trimester when the baby’s being formed, just to be on the safe side,” Morgan said. “And they don’t want to wait till the end of the pregnancy when the mother hasn’t had time to make the immunological response to protect the fetus.”
Limited data is available for the safety of the COVID-19 shot on expectant mothers, but infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said so far, about 20,000 pregnant women have received a vaccine without any red flags.
The trial will not only focus on the mom, but also how the doses affect the baby and whether her antibodies are passed along.
“When they’re born, if she breastfeeds, hopefully they would have some of that, too, and that’s what they hope to find,” said Morgan.
Pregnant women are advised to talk with their doctor about their risk and exposure to COVID-19.
Morgan said the decision to get the vaccine is ultimately a personal one.
The trial is expected to last 6-12 months. For more information, click here.