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QC Doctor Debunks COVID-19 Pregnancy Myths

University Clinical Health, Morgan Harriman

As Phase 1B vaccinations roll out, OB/GYN doctors in the Quad Cities are encouraging pregnant women to get the COVID vaccine. 

Briana Barclay is a physician at The Group Obstetrics & Gynecology Specialists, P.C. She says that while there isn't a lot of concrete data, doctors know enough about how vaccines similar to Moderna and Pfizer operate. 

"When you get the injection in your arm, that messenger RNA goes to work in the cells in your arm. And there's really not any evidence that that messenger RNA ever gets into your bloodstream... So, it's really hard to imagine it would ever get to Baby or even to breastmilk, if someone's also breastfeeding." 

Barclay says getting vaccinated is a personal decision, but that decision should be based on science. Pregnant women are seven times more likely to die from COVID than others of the same age group. 

To those worried that the vaccine may cause infertility, Barclay says it's a myth. 

"The messenger RNA tells your body to make this spike protein that's on the surface of the virus; your body makes these antibodies, so the speculation was that these antibodies could attack the placenta because there's a protein that's similar in the placenta... the proteins aren't that similar; they share five building blocks out of a 1,000+... Your body can tell the difference. And the other thing, the antibodies that you make because of the vaccine are the same antibodies you make if you get COVID, and so if that hypothesis were really true, then we would see people who have had COVID see increases of miscarriages or pregnancy loss or things like that, and we don't." 

Barclay has yet to see a baby boom because of earlier locked downs. She says her patient numbers have stayed relatively consistent throughout the pandemic.

Marianna Bacallao is WVIK Quad Cities NPR's 2020-2021 Fellowship Host/Reporter. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Mercer University's Center for Collaborative Journalism and served as Editor-in-Chief for the student newspaper, The Cluster.