Mai Uchida, MD, director of Massachusetts General Hospital's Child Depression Program in the Department of Psychiatry, shares her “My Why”—outlining her decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine during her pregnancy. Dr. Uchida hopes that she can be of help to anyone struggling with a similar decision by sharing her thought process, her emotions as a mother and her expertise as a physician.
As a pregnant doctor and clinician-researcher, I put a lot of thought, scientific reading and pregnant pondering into whether I should get this vaccine now while I am pregnant or wait until after I deliver. In the end, my answer was very clear that I need this for myself, my family, my patients, the participants coming in-person for our clinical trials and neuroimaging studies, and everyone who I encounter.
If infected with COVID, pregnant women are three times more likely to have ICU admissions, three times more likely to need advanced life support and mechanical ventilation, more likely to die and may be at increased risk for stillbirth and preterm birth.
The mRNA vaccine has such a clever design that I could not come up with any probable scenarios of it harming the baby or me, and the safety data on non-pregnant people is very strong.
Even with the pregnant pondering (the natural anxiety of the unknown hurting my baby in some unknown way), the weighing of the risks associated with vaccination versus the risks associated with getting infected had a clear winner for me, personally.
It’s a personal choice that every pregnant woman has to make for themselves, weighing their risks, and I feel that there’s no right answer nor shame in whatever we choose to do!
I feel a deep gratitude for the decades of scientific research that made this possible, and am excited that the antibodies that I produce in response to this vaccine will likely cross the placenta and protect our baby as well!