Thoughts on the COVID-19 Vaccine from an OB/GYN Physician Perspective
I have realized in the past week or two how many people remain undecided about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Although it seems that everyone is polarized in one direction or another (pro- vs. anti-vaccine), through many recent conversations I’ve had and messages I’ve received this week, it has become clear that a good portion of our population is still on the fence.
If you think that COVID-19 and the vaccine are about politics, government control, tracking devices, microchips, etc.— this post is not for you. It’s clear you’re going to take your chances. I hope that works out.
I am writing this in an attempt to reach the people who share the viewpoint of many of my patients and even friends and co-workers who have been waiting it out to see if getting the vaccine is necessary.
There are plenty of people out there who have been waiting to see how the virus plays out, whether it goes away soon on its own, or make sure that the vaccine doesn’t have any harmful side effects before deciding to get it. Many people are now wondering if the Delta variant is the change that should push them to go ahead and get vaccinated. Please let me convince you— it is.
The Delta variant is much more contagious than last year’s strain. On average, one person will infect 8-10 other people with Delta, which is much higher than previous variants. Our local and national numbers are rising quickly again. My husband works in the ER and says that the past couple weeks have been like November 2020 all over again. SO. MUCH. COVID. People are sick again. The longer we put up with poor vaccination rates, the more opportunity this virus has to continue to mutate and create new variants that could be more harmful.
The virus is so prevalent that we are all faced with choosing what we want to go up against— the virus or the vaccine. People aren’t staying home anymore. Most people aren’t masking anymore. It’s much harder to be confident that you can avoid both the virus and the vaccine at this point.
This is not necessarily even about you— if you are young and healthy, odds are that you already did fine against COVID-19 or would probably do fine against future strains. This is about your grandmother, your parents, your loved one with cancer. This is your opportunity to help protect everyone.
The vaccine comes with minimal risk. You might get a sore arm, fever, body aches, etc. Better to put up with that for a day or two than to actually put yourself and your family members at risk of serious harm. The serious risks of the vaccine have been proven to be very rare, and there is NO zero risk option when it comes to vaccine vs. virus. The COVID19 virus itself has plenty of harmful, potentially devastating and long-lasting effects.
I wish I could say that the vaccine guarantees full protection against COVID-19, but it does not. However, the potential risk vs. potential benefit ratio still falls heavily on the side of the vaccine. Breakthrough cases in vaccinated individuals are milder than unvaccinated cases. There are much lower rates of hospitalization and death amongst those who received the vaccine compared to those who did not. In recent weeks, 97% of COVID19 hospital admissions and 99.5% of COVID19 deaths were in unvaccinated patients. A study in the UK showed that the Pfizer vaccine still had ~88% efficacy against the Delta variant.
Many people are avoiding the vaccine because they already had COVID-19 last year. Preliminary evidence is showing that natural immunity may not be effective against Delta, but more studies are needed. Think about it this way- you can get different strains of the flu two years in a row, so why would this be any different? Why would one episode of COVID protect you against all future strains? Please don’t let your past COVID-19 infection stop you from getting the vaccine.
Regarding pregnant patients, our national OBGYN professional organizations are now recommending vaccination of pregnant individuals. Data has shown us that— simply put— vaccination is safe in pregnancy and COVID-19 infection is not. COVID-19 infection puts pregnant patients at an increased risk of hospital admission, as well as severe complications including ICU admission and death. The COVID-19 vaccine does not increase risk of miscarriage. The vaccine itself does not cross the placenta. The antibodies DO cross the placenta, which is a potentially huge benefit for your baby.
PLEASE do not worry about your fertility. The COVID19 vaccine has not been found to impact male or female fertility OR fertility treatment outcomes.
Let me get personal with you for a second. I have told my story before on this platform, and now I have an update. I have been through years of fertility treatments and required IVF for my pregnancy in 2019-2020. I received my COVID-19 vaccines in December-January. By the end of January, I was feeling sick daily. I figured I didn’t have COVID since I was vaccinated, but I never expected that it was actually because I was PREGNANT (on our own!) I have joked that the COVID19 vaccine doesn’t cause infertility—in fact, it might have cured it in my case! (Just kidding…n of 1 here)
There is a ton of propaganda and misinformation out there. Your decision about the vaccine needs to be based on science, not a conspiracy theory you read on Facebook. I understand the caution that many people have taken, and I appreciate the honesty of the people who have opened up to me about their uncertainty. I respect your viewpoint, and I believe that we are all adults who are capable of making these decisions for ourselves. I have told countless patients that I am not judging anyone else’s decision— I just knew that the decision for myself was very clear. I still take care of all of my patients the same way, caring for them the best that I can, vaccinated or not!
I am hoping that this post helps those who remain in the middle and who have been looking for a nudge of reassurance that this vaccine is considered safe and is still recommended by medical professionals. If this post helps even a few more people decide to get vaccinated, then I consider that a success. Please consider taking your shot!