Pregnant Triangle health care workers talk about decision to get COVID-19 vaccine

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The CDC estimates some 330,000 health care workers across the country are pregnant or have recently had a baby, and although health care workers are in a priority group to receive COVID-19 vaccines, those vaccines have not been tested on pregnant women.

 CBS 17 spoke to three pregnant health care workers about making the decision about whether to get the shot. 

Three health care workers, at three Triangle hospitals, in three different stages of pregnancy, all faced the same choice — whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Lindsay Yoxheimer, a registered nurse in UNC’s COVID-19 ICU, is in her first trimester.

“I very quickly had to make that decision based on no data,” she explained.

Sarah Sherron, a labor and delivery nurse at Duke University Hospital, is in the middle of her pregnancy.

“My initial reaction was absolutely not, I won’t do it in pregnancy; it hasn’t been tested,” she recalled.

Jesse Hart, a WakeMed pediatrician, is weeks away from having her baby.

“I’ve never been in a position where I’ve been offered something that’s completely new to a pregnant woman,” she explained.

Since the COVID-19 vaccines have not been studied in pregnant women, each researched how the shots work, and spoke to their own doctors and other doctors they work with.

As health care workers, they also see first-hand, the effects of COVID-19 on pregnant women. That factored into their decisions.

“We might not know exactly what the long-term outcomes of this vaccine are in pregnant women, but we certainly know what the long-term outcomes of COVID are,” noted Hart.

“I have recently taken care of a pregnant woman who was on a ventilator,” added Yoxheimer. “I just imagine it was such a scary time for her, in addition to wondering if she was going to be ok and if her child was going to be ok.”

“We’ve seen pregnant moms, second, third trimester in the ICU hanging on for their lives, and that was not something I wanted,” said Sherron.

Despite some initial reluctance, ultimately, their research, and their experiences led all three to get the vaccine.  All of them say they feel they made the right decision for themselves and their babies, but they support whatever decision other moms may make.

“I think it’s really important for pregnant women to make the best decisions for their families and themselves,” said Yoxheimer.

Sherron added, “My recommendation is: if you are going to make a choice for or against the vaccine that you do your research and do good research. Look at websites like the CDC, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses.”

She added, “It is your body, and your baby, and your pregnancy, and what you do with that is your choice.”

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