MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, pregnant patients have been advised to be extra vigilant about safety precautions, including washing their hands, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings, and wearing a face covering.
Now, nearly a year later, the U.S. is delivering its first shipments of vaccines. On Dec.15, WVU Medicine received its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine and began vaccinating its frontline caregivers, including Annelee Boyle, M.D., medical director of the WVU Medicine Children’s Maternal Infant Care Center and Maternal-Fetal Medicine.
“I can’t socially distance. I’m the person that gets called when a pregnant woman with COVID-19 goes into respiratory distress, which has helped shape my decision to take the vaccine,” Dr. Boyle said.
As a high-risk pregnancy specialist who was 26-weeks pregnant at the time she was vaccinated, Boyle said the risks associated with getting COVID-19 while pregnant are far worse than the risks associated with the vaccine.
“I weighed the theoretic risks to myself and my baby against the known risks to myself and my baby. And for me, that risk-benefit profile favored accepting the vaccine,” she said. “We know that pregnant women are at higher risk of adverse outcomes with COVID. They have increased risk of hospitalization, need for ICU and mechanical ventilation, and a slight increase risk in death compared to non-pregnant patients.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine recommend that the COVID-19 vaccine should not be withheld from pregnant individuals who meet criteria for vaccination based on their recommended priority group.
In addition, the COVID-19 vaccine is believed to be safe for women who are breastfeeding. Live vaccines are not recommended for pregnant women, but the COVID-19 vaccine is not live.
“It’s an mRNA vaccine, which is broken down by the body, and not incorporated into your DNA at all,” Boyle said.
Boyle suggests pregnant and breastfeeding women with questions about the COVID vaccine contact their doctors.
“It’s important to discuss your medical conditions and life circumstances with your doctor, and then make a decision that works best for you and your family,” she said.
Chapman and Associates Health Care to join WVU Medicine United Health Associates as LaVale Medical Center
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Chapman and Associates Health Care in LaVale, Md., will join WVU Medicine University Health Associates (UHA) on February 22. The practice will be operated by UHA as LaVale Medical Center. Chapman and Associates Health Care was started in December 2012 by Cathy Chapman, C.R.N.P. The integrated practice has grown to include primary care, behavioral health medication management, and therapy services. “We are excited to join WVU Medicine and are looking forward to the services and resources this affiliation will provide to our patients,” Chapman said. “WVU Medicine is committed to continuing our team based integrated care approach in providing high quality care to our patients.” The practice includes Cathy Chapman, family practice nurse practitioner and psych mental health nurse practitioner, April Cross, C.R.N.P., family nurse practitioner, certified diabetes educator, and health coach, Carrie McDonald, L.C.S.W.-C., certified cognitive behavioral therapist; Geri Fox L.C.S.W.-C., certified diabetic behavioral therapist; Andrea Opel, L.C.S.W.-C., certified mind-body medicine therapist. The practice currently sees patients age seven and older for primary care and behavioral health services. Office hours are Monday through Friday with early morning and evening appointments available. For more information call 240-362-7294. We are excited for the opportunity to welcome LaVale Medical Center to the WVU Medicine family,” Michael Edmond, M.D., WVU Health System chief medical officer, said. “As we continue to partner with facilities across the border in neighboring states, we further our mission to offer the best possible care to our patients close to where they call home.” The West Virginia University Health System, which operates under the brand “WVU Medicine,” is both West Virginia’s largest health system and largest private employer. Comprised of 13 owned hospitals, including its 700-bed flagship academic medical center in Morgantown, WVU Health System also provides management services to several community-based hospitals and clinics across a four-state region that includes West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Maryland. The academic health system also includes a children’s hospital – WVU Medicine Children’s – and five institutes – the WVU Cancer Institute, the WVU Critical Care and Trauma Institute, the WVU Eye Institute, the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, and the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute. For more information, visit WVUMedicine.org.