Getting COVID-19 while pregnant and unvaccinated could mean serious consequences, doctors say

Doctors are working to share the facts about COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy after a CDC report found that just over a quarter of pregnant women are vaccinated in the U.S.

The pandemic has taken a lot in the last year and a half, and that includes loved ones for some people

"I lost my uncle last year due to COVID. So when the vaccine came out, it was the first thing on my agenda to make sure that I was going to get the vaccine," said Nancy Batista, a Central Florida resident.

Batista said she got the shot earlier this year, then later found out she was pregnant at that time. She wanted to know how the vaccine would affect her baby.

"Everything that I got from my doctors was that this was actually going to help pass some immunity to my baby," said Batista.

There is plenty of safety data available now than when the COVID-19 vaccine first came out. The shot is safe and effective for pregnant women, but it’s taking time to convince them to get a dose. 

"The CDC came out with a study towards the end of September, and they said about 31% of pregnant people had been vaccinated against COVID-19, which is lower than the national everybody average by quite a bit," said Dr. Laura Arline, the chief quality officer at BayCare Health System.

Dr. Arline said getting COVID as an unvaccinated pregnant woman can spell serious consequences.

"If you are pregnant and you get COVID-19, that puts you at much higher risk for having a preterm birth, which is a baby that's born before it's time to deliver. And that puts, of course, all kinds of risks out there," said Arline. "There have also been, unfortunately, stillbirths associated with when pregnant women who have COVID-19 and stillbirth. It's a loss of the pregnancy."

Batista said she also has a compromised immune system, putting her at an even higher risk as a pregnant woman. She said she hopes moms-to-be will hear her story and talk to their doctors about protecting themselves and their babies.

"I want to make sure that my baby is going to come to this world and not have to face COVID at such an early age because they don't they don't have that system already built up where they can fight this," Batista said.

Dr. Arline said she thinks it really helps to have one-on-one discussions with patients about their concerns to help them understand the vaccine. She said some patients she’s talked with about the shot even changed their minds to get the vaccine.