BOISE, Idaho — The CDC estimates that in the United States, 330,000 healthcare workers are pregnant or have recently given birth.
Dr. Elizabeth Atnip, a partner with St. Luke’s, works on the frontlines, caring for patients with COVID-19 in the Treasure Valley. She's also seven months pregnant.
With limited information surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine and its effects on pregnant women, health experts say frontline health workers are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 and, if they're pregnant, they're more likely to suffer from severe complications.
Dr. Atnip says she had the opportunity to receive the vaccine when it first arrived in Boise in December but took a few weeks to decide on whether to receive it or not.
Pregnant people were not allowed to partake in clinical trials for the vaccine. According to the CDC, with the limited data on hand, they found no safety concerns in recent Moderna studies. Studies of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are ongoing.
This information, along with other studies, helped Dr. Atnip make a final decision.
“The mRNA, for the most part, stays locally which is why people are getting such a terrible sore arm, and then the mRNA is dissolved quickly in the body, so in theory, if anything there should be hardly anything that passes through the placenta other than my own antibodies.”
Knowing the risks of the vaccine were much smaller than contracting the virus itself, Dr. Atnip got vaccinated.
“The actual vaccine itself, I definitely got that sore, stiff arm for about 48 hours I guess after, and then maybe some fatigue and maybe some nausea,” says Dr. Atnip.
She says being pregnant means it's hard to tell what was a side effect of the vaccine or her pregnancy, but despite it all, she says she's happy with her decision.
As a mother and a medical professional, Dr. Atnip encourages anyone pregnant to consider getting vaccinated.
"It was an emotional decision during pregnancy, but it ended up feeling like the right decision for both my own personal risk and I’m hoping that it has benefits for my baby as well.”
Dr. Atnip says both she and her unborn baby are doing well, and she will receive her second and final dose of the COVID vaccine next month.