University Hospitals Uncovers the Dangers of Being Pregnant and Unvaccinated

COVID-19 vaccines do not cause pregnancy complications for expectant mothers and their babies. That’s the message University Hospitals, located in Cleveland, is sharing across its communications channels.

In a series of educational videos specifically targeting women of reproductive age, Ellie Ragsdale, M.D., OB-GYN maternal fetal medicine and director, fetal intervention, at UH Cleveland Medical Center, talks about the dangers of not getting vaccinated. In one of the videos, Ragsdale explains, “Having a weakened immune state, [pregnant] women are much more susceptible to all types of viral infections. … Pregnant women get very sick very fast and force us to make difficult decisions about continuing a pregnancy versus delivering early.”

According to Ragsdale, the unfortunate reality is that preterm deliveries, maternal deaths and fetal deaths have occurred that “can only be explained by COVID.” She advises pregnant women and those considering pregnancy to get vaccinated, and emphasizes that to date there is no data that suggests the COVID-19 vaccine causes any complications for expectant mothers and their babies. The videos have been published on the hospital’s COVID-19 online resource pages and social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends urgent action to increase COVID-19 vaccination among “people who are pregnant, recently pregnant (including those who are lactating), who are trying to become pregnant now or who might become pregnant in the future.”

Moreover, a study confirms when vaccinated women are breastfeeding, antibodies safely pass from the mom to her unborn child through the placenta or through breast milk. Having antibodies suggests that infants may have some natural immunity passed on to them by their mothers, helping reduce their risk of infection or severity of the virus.

In addition to the educational videos, UH’s online COVID-19 vaccine resource hub offers a wealth of easy-to-understand information on how vaccines reduce the risk of hospitalization and death in pregnant women, and the potential vaccine side effects that may occur in pregnant women. Expert articles emphasize that “data from tens of thousands of reporting individuals” shows that the COVID-19 vaccine is both safe and effective for women planning to become pregnant, women who are already pregnant and infants born to vaccinated women.

UH didn’t stop there. The hospital set out to debunk myths about the vaccine’s effects on women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant. Common myths suggest that the COVID-19 vaccine causes infertility, was developed using fetal tissue and may alter the mother’s or baby’s DNA.

For couples who are preparing to have a baby during the pandemic, UH offers advice on managing stress, what to expect during labor and delivery, bringing the baby home, and newborn care. There is a guide on keeping up with a baby’s checkups and immunizations during the pandemic.

And for all people who are still hesitant about getting the vaccine, UH created a comprehensive COVID-19 vaccine playbook. The free, downloadable guide was created by subject matter experts at UH and addresses the most important questions surrounding COVID-19 vaccines — how they work, safety, effectiveness and more.