When to get your COVID booster; virus’ effects on pregnant women

Dec 22, 2021, 1:15 PM | Updated: 10:38 pm
get your booster COVID-19 during pregnancy...
FILE - In this May 7, 2020 file photo, a pregnant woman wearing a face mask and gloves holds her belly as she waits in line for groceries at St. Mary's Church in Waltham, Mass.(AP Photo/Charles Krupa, file)
(AP Photo/Charles Krupa, file)

ST. GEORGE, Utah — Just two days away from Christmas gatherings, but it’s not too late to get your COVID-19 booster shot.

The medical director for Intermountain Healthcare’s St. George Regional Hospital, Dr. Patrick Carroll, says now is as good a time as any to get your booster, even though there’s not enough time to see the max effects.

The best time to get your COVID booster 

“I don’t know that there’s been a better day to get a booster. And tomorrow will be another great day to get a booster, and the next day as well,” said Dr. Carroll. “But it is true that we see the maximal effect of that 10 to 14 days after the vaccination. So the impact it will have on a Christmas Day celebration is not as great as someone who is boosted a week or two weeks ago.”

But there are benefits to boosters before that.

“There was a previous study that looked at boosters seven days out, and demonstrated significant benefit even seven days out.” 

One such study was done by the New England Journal of Medicine.

“The 10 to 14 days comes from the initial studies that were done,” said. Dr. Carroll. “We saw the same rate of infection for about the first 10 days, and after 10 days, the rate of infection dropped off dramatically. So that’s where that 10 days come from.” 

Dr. Carroll says it’s hard to know on an individual level how your immune system will respond, but on a broad level, there’s a decent amount of protection after seven days. 

Booster doses are available for any Utahns 16 or older.

Learning more about pregnancy and COVID-19

The rate of vaccination among women who are pregnant or hope to be, it’s some of the lowest vaccination rates in the state. 

Dr. Carroll, who studies neonatology says the concerns about fertility are not founded.

“In fact, what we’re seeing is vaccination for pregnant women, or those intending to become pregnant, that it’s one of the best things they can do,” says Dr. Carroll. 

There is some data that preterm births are linked to COVID-19 infections.

“I have seen a significant increase in the number of pregnant moms with COVID, and particularly those who end up in the ICU,” said Dr. Carroll. “I don’t want to suggest that’s that the majority of pregnant women… that’s not what I’m saying. But it’s happening much more frequently than we saw with the alpha variant.”

Dr. Carroll says he’s also seeing something happening in the NICU that’s purely anecdotal for his work.

“We’re seeing an increase in the number of babies being born with growth restriction — those that are below normal birth weight,” he said. “And the pattern appears to be — and this is anecdotal, this based on my personal observations, not based on statistics or confirmed studies — that those individuals who have COVID early in pregnancy seem to have a higher likelihood of the placenta not being effective and the baby not growing as well.” 

“So we’re seeing a lot of premature babies that are even smaller than what we expect based on their gestational age,” Dr. Carroll said. 

The best thing women can do for their babies? Get vaccinated.

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