Pregnancy and the COVID-19 vaccination is a hot topic in our fertility world today. The US Food and Drug Administration has granted full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for people age16 and older. The CDC encourages all pregnant people or people who are thinking about becoming pregnant and those breastfeeding to get vaccinated to protect themselves from COVID-19. And the American Society for Reproductive Medicine says while all women should be strongly encouraged to receive COVID-19 vaccination when pregnant or attempting pregnancy, clinics should strongly consider requiring vaccination for gestational carriers and advise intended parents to include the requirement of vaccination of gestational carriers in their contracts.
How do you take all of that information and apply it to pregnancy and surrogacy? As we navigate the pandemic and new variants, we've been hearing a lot about the questions and concerns from all parties regarding how that impacts surrogates and our intended parents. Dr. Jennifer Hirshfeld-Cytron, board certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, with Fertility Centers of Illinois answered our questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and surrogacy on our podcast All Things Conceivable: A Surrogacy Podcast with Nazca Fontes.
Here are our top seven takeaways about COVID-19 and pregnancy from our interview with Dr. Jennifer Hirshfeld-Cytron.
“Some data has demonstrated increased risk of ICU stays, increased risk of miscarriage, and increased risk of stillbirth. So the virus itself can particularly impact the health of a pregnant woman, which makes it even more pertinent to discuss ways to prevent pregnant women from getting COVID.”
“Even with the Delta variant, when you've been vaccinated, the risk of hospitalization is still quite low. It’s a pandemic of the unvaccinated. The unvaccinated individuals are the ones getting sick enough that they're being hospitalized. And the vaccine is the tool we have to prevent it.”
“Some people who got vaccinated, but still had a positive COVID test, may be frustrated. But if someone's at home with a cold, that's not what we're really worried about. What we're really worried about is someone being hospitalized or being in the ICU.”
“About 22 healthcare organizations have supported the vaccine including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and the CDC. As more studies are done and the data accumulates, we've become more and more reassured that they continue to support the safety of the vaccine. They do not increase your risk of infertility. They do not worsen the pregnancy. They protect the pregnancy, because the virus is a risk to your pregnancy.”
“Our job is to educate people that just like quitting smoking, obtaining a healthy weight, or limiting alcohol, the vaccine is a way that we are making your body as healthy as possible to receive a pregnancy, whether it's for a “keeper” baby or not.”
"On a case by case, physicians will approve or discourage a surrogate based on their vaccination status. I can only speak for myself, but I would gather that the vast majority of Reproductive Endocrinologists are going to discourage surrogates that are uncomfortable with the vaccine.”
“It is an incredible gift to consider being a surrogate. I don't want to minimize it for one second and to now take that next step to say, what can I proactively do to make my health optimal in this pandemic and the pregnancy optimal. The vaccine is in that category. I implore everyone out there who's concerned about safety to ask their physician. Ask them to review the data. Ask them pointedly the questions and the concerns that you personally have and use good information to make a good decision.”
“When surrogates come to the decision to embark on a surrogacy journey, they're helping families that have been through struggle, after struggle, after struggle. And what they're looking for more than anything is to partner with a like-minded surrogate who gives them the best, healthiest chance for creating the family of their dreams and for that healthy baby. Rarely do I take such an extreme stance on a topic in these podcasts, but the physicians here are the experts. Consider the risks for you and the baby that you may be carrying or will be caring for an intended parent and put your best foot forward on behalf of that family, so that they can have their dreams fulfilled and you can be safe. Roll up your sleeves and get that vaccination.”
As your surrogacy agency, your health and well being is our top priority. We are here to help you navigate your surrogacy journey in every way possible. COVID-19 presents significant risks to surrogates and babies and puts intended parents’ dreams of a family in jeopardy. Following reputable medical recommendations for standard of care for pregnant women and our fertility clinic medical partners’ protocol, surrogates with ConceiveAbilities must be vaccinated to embark on a surrogacy journey.
Many of our fertility clinics are following these recommendations and will not clear an unvaccinated surrogate to move forward in a surrogacy journey. This is time and effort lost for you and the intended parents if concerns about COVID-19 vaccination ultimately end in a failed surrogacy journey. We know that for you to move forward in a timely, healthy and productive manner, you will need to be vaccinated.
Medical and life insurance companies are not insuring unvaccinated surrogates for illness and deaths associated with COVID-19, putting you and your family’s well being at risk.
Gestational carriers who are unvaccinated are not only risking their own health, but are significantly risking the health of the intended parents’ child. While we respect the autonomy of people to make decisions regarding their own health, the gestational carrier has a unique status as the child they are carrying is not their own and not being vaccinated puts someone else’s child at risk. We acknowledge vaccination may not be the path forward for you and thank you for considering becoming a surrogate with ConceiveAbilities.
The best way to get information about the COVID-19 vaccine is to talk with your doctor. There are many resources available to help answer your questions and prepare you to ask more questions of your doctor including a recent study of more than 17,000 pregnant women. We stand ready to assist you.
Are you a woman who was enjoyed a healthy and successful pregnancy? Do you have friends or family who have suffered from infertility or need assistance from someone else to build their family? Have you ever considered the role you could play in helping someone else build their family - as a surrogate? Talk to us to learn more about the possibilities to help someone else's dream come true. ConceiveAbilities is the best surrogacy agency for surrogates. Learn more about how to become a surrogate with ConceiveAbilities here.