For me, it was never a question of if I would get the vaccine, but more so when I would get it. In late 2020 when the COVID vaccine was first available in the United States, I didn’t follow the release much. At that time, availability and distribution were still being determined and having access to it felt a long way away. I had no clue if the vaccine would be available to me before my due date in May 2021. In January of 2021 when doses were being administered locally, I initially spoke to my doctor about the vaccine. My doctor was also pregnant at the time. She said that she was waiting until after she delivered since she was so close to delivery (3 weeks out), but stressed that she encouraged me to get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine was available to me. She told me that her other pregnant colleagues who weren’t as far along as she was had gotten it already.
I mentally decided that I would wait until delivery. I hadn’t heard much talk about the impact of the vaccine on pregnant and/or nursing women. It also still seemed like my “chance” to get it wouldn’t be anytime soon anyway.
But then the distribution seemed to pick up and my opportunity window approached quickly. In late February 2021, I became eligible based on my profession (school administrator) and surprisingly to me, based on … my pregnancy.
It was then that I started to rethink my decision. Something about seeing pregnancy as a specific eligibility condition sent me into a slight panic. It made me want to think about this more in depth. Questions started spiraling in my head. Why was I waiting? What does the research say? What do the people I trust say?
So I went down a research rabbit hole for weeks. In conclusion, last week at 31 weeks pregnant, I received my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
What Convinced Me
I’m scared of getting COVID. It frightens me how unpredictable this virus can be. Of course, there is a ton of unpredictability with the vaccine, but after a year of watching the impacts of COVID, I compared the pros and cons of the vaccine against the pros and cons of potentially contracting the virus. I know so many people who have buried their loved ones due to COVID, and it terrifies me. For me, I’m ultimately more scared about the unknown of contracting COVID than the vaccine.
I listened to sources I trust. I don’t have a medical degree or background, so I defer to those who do when it comes to medical decisions. I leaned on the healthcare professionals that I love and trust, and every single one of them has received their vaccine and encouraged me to do the same.
I read the research. There has slowly been more research coming out related to the vaccine and pregnant women. We are hopefully seeing that pregnant mothers who are vaccinated can/will pass on antibodies to their babies after birth and through breastmilk. It is important to me that my baby have any antibodies possible.
I thought about the future. I don’t know if I believe that life will ever look the way it used to, but I’m ready to get to whatever the new normal looks like. I don’t want to feel like a risk to my loved ones who are older or have other health issues. I want those around my newborn vaccinated. I’m ready to move forward.
My only side effect from the vaccine was an extremely sore arm. I got my shot at noon, and my entire arm felt numb for the remainder of the day. My husband who was vaccinated at the same time experienced extreme fatigue. However, we were back to our normal selves the next day.
So far I have no regrets. I know there are many pregnant women who are on the fence, and I encourage you each to do your own research. Your worries and fears are valid, and you aren’t alone. This is a new challenge in the daily struggle we face to make the best decisions for our children and our families. For me, this was the right decision. For you, it may not be. Right now, I am looking forward to my second dose soon and preparing to welcome our new addition shortly after.