As the Delta variant surges, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now doubling down on its recommendation for pregnant people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Citing new data about its safety and effectiveness throughout pregnancy, the updated recommendation outlined how pregnant and recently pregnant people are at an increased risk for severe illness from the virus when compared to others.
The CDC also added how pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk of preterm birth and might be at an increased risk of other adverse pregnancy outcomes, compared to pregnant women without the virus. “Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from severe illness from COVID-19,” the agency summed up.
The updated recommendation comes after an analysis of new data on 2,500 women. According to the CDC, “scientists did not find an increased risk for miscarriage” among people who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine before 20 weeks of pregnancy. The agency also noted how available safety data found no additional risk to people vaccinated later in pregnancy or to their babies. For the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine, the health agency cited positive safety results from past clinical trials involving the same vaccine technology, as well as studies in pregnant animals, to conclude that the vaccine was safe.
The update also listed studies which found how vaccination of pregnant people can help build antibodies that might protect their baby. “Antibodies made after a pregnant person received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine were found in umbilical cord blood,” the CDC noted. “This essentially means that vaccinations during pregnancy might help protect babies against COVID-19.” However, the agency also called for the need for more data to determine how these antibodies, similar to those produced with other vaccines, may provide protection to the baby.
The CDC’s advice echoes recent recommendations from top organisations including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics. According to both groups, data shows that the vaccine is safe and effective when administered during pregnancy and has no impact on fertility. “Pregnant individuals are at increased risk of severe COVID-19 infection, including death,” the organizations said, as noted by The Washington Post. “With cases rising as a result of the Delta variant, the best way for pregnant individuals to protect themselves against the potential harm from COVID-19 infection is to be vaccinated.”
The CDC had previously said that pregnant women were “eligible” for the vaccine. In an interview with The Washington Post, Sascha Ellington, the team lead for the Emergency Preparedness and Response team in CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health, said the agency had no reason for concern, but in the absence of data “did stop short of a stronger recommendation in pregnant women.”
Brenna Hughes, a maternal-fetal medicine physician and member of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine COVID 19 Task Force, also noted that misinformation about the vaccine’s effect on pregnancy and fertility has proliferated. “There’s a lot of misinformation out in the world and that certainly has not helped vaccination efforts in any population,” Hughes said in the interview. “And among pregnant individuals, patients are worried about themselves as well as their babies. They have a lot more to consider.”
As of 31 July 2021, only 23 per cent of those who were pregnant had received at least one dose of vaccine against the coronavirus. With cases of the Delta variant soaring as we speak, the new advice may persuade some pregnant people to immunise themselves against the virus. The latest advice also applies to nursing mothers and those planning to get pregnant.
If you’ve ever gotten Botox, especially recently, you might want to hear about this fairly new announcement before considering getting your COVID-19 vaccine—and if you’re one of the lucky few who’ve already received their first jab, please just ignore me before you start worrying over something that, hopefully, isn’t likely to happen to you. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently said that people who get “a certain procedure should be aware they could have some unwanted side-effects with a COVID-19 vaccine.” This “certain procedure” includes dermal fillers, mostly known as Botox.
There have been reports of people with Botox experiencing facial or lip swelling after receiving the Moderna vaccine. At a meeting of the advisory panel—known as the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC)—FDA medical officer Rachel Zhang reported that two people developed facial swelling after vaccination during Moderna’s phase 3 trial.
One person, a 46-year-old female, had dermal fillers injected about six months before getting the vaccine. The other, a 51-year-old female, had undergone the same procedure only two weeks before vaccination. A third person who took part in the Moderna trial developed lip angioedema (swelling) about two days after vaccination. Zhang said the person had received prior dermal filler injections in the lips, and had reported a “similar reaction after a previous influenza vaccine.”
During that same meeting, the FDA included the facial swelling in the “Related Serious Adverse Event” category. “This is a very rare side effect, and it’s very treatable with antihistamines and prednisone (a type of steroid),” board-certified dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, told Health.
In fact, in all three cases mentioned above, the swelling was localised and either resolved itself without intervention or after simple treatment. So no need to freak out about your lips exploding while you’re trying to get a cute vaxxie.
Although we don’t know the exact mechanism causing this response, doctors believe it is an inflammatory reaction—duh. “A filler is a foreign body and when your immune system is switching on due to the vaccine it would make sense that areas that have foreign bodies that aren’t normally in your body would also have inflammation—this is because your immune system is designed to counteract any foreign substance,” Doctor Purvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist at NYU Langone Health, told Health.
And in case you thought you weren’t concerned by this because you’ll never receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine… I’ve got some mixed news for you. “Viruses like the common cold, influenza, etc., are known to trigger swelling—again, this is because your immune system is being activated,” Doctor Parikh explained. “And if you are allergic to a medication, this may trigger a similar response in your fillers.” In other words, the same allergic reaction could happen with many different types of vaccine and even medication.
That being said, it doesn’t appear to have been reported with the Pfizer vaccine, and it’s not clear why, because the two vaccines are almost identical. All in all, the benefits of the vaccine, and therefore avoiding the disease, far outweigh anything that has to do with a cosmetic procedure. Swelling in people with fillers isn’t abnormal—filler is a foreign substance, which explains why your body might be extra vigilant against it after receiving a dose of the vaccine.
For the most part, over-the-counter medication should get you through any kind of discomfort, but do contact your doctor if it gets worse.