At the end of July, it was announced that the country’s expert vaccine group ATAGI and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians had officially recommended pregnant women be eligible for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna is also safe for pregnant women and will be available in Australia soon, while AstraZeneca is safe to have pre or post conception and while breastfeeding. Australia has the extra benefit of getting to see how the vaccine rollout has safely played out in over 100, 000 pregnant women in the UK and US.
Off the back of this news I quickly consulted my obstetrician, who in no uncertain terms told me to run, not walk, to lock in a vaccination appointment. He warned me that catching COVID while pregnant could be grim for both me and my unborn child, while reassuring me that Pfizer was safe to get at any stage of pregnancy and that some of the antibodies from the jab might even be passed onto my little womb mate, meaning they’ll have some protection from the virus too.
From there, it was an absolute no-brainer. Despite living a hermit existence thanks to lockdown and being lucky enough to work from home, I still had the usual gamut of medical appointments to attend for my pregnancy and daily daycare drop-offs to do for my toddler—every outing posing a potential risk of catching COVID. I couldn’t get that sweet, sweet Pfizer in me soon enough!
But actually tracking down a Pfizer appointment was like sourcing a golden unicorn egg. Trying to book through the official government channels online was a joke with pregnancy not added to the list of medical priorities until weeks after the official announcement.
In the end, I managed to secure an appointment for when I was 34 weeks pregnant with a local GP offering Pfizer through a tip-off from a fellow pregnant pal.
Jab day couldn’t come soon enough and when it finally arrived, it felt like Christmas. I dressed up in non-activewear! I put on mascara! I wore my best mask! I was so bloody excited and I have never felt more grateful to live in a first-world country and have access to the wonders of modern medicine.
In terms of side effects, the day after my first jab I had a dead leg (which was an interesting plot twist I didn’t see coming as I got the needle in my arm) but it vanished within 24-hours. The second time around, I came off completely unscathed.
I am beyond thankful that both me and my partner will be fully vaxxed by the time our bub arrives and we can safely hold them in our arms with that peace of mind.
And while kids under 12 sadly can’t get vaccinated, the next best thing I could do to protect them was to get it. Getting jabbed means you’re less likely to pass COVID onto others, including our littlest members of society.
It also means that you can soon be sipping spritzes in the summer sunshine with your besties like the olden days but that really shouldn’t be the reason getting you over the line.
You wouldn’t dream of holding a newborn without having the whooping cough immunisation and my hope is that people treat the COVID jab with the same approach.
If you have decided not to get it, then fine. But please don’t inflict that decision onto already stressed parents trying to navigate the newborn trenches in the midst of a global pandemic and respectfully keep a distance from their vulnerable babies. No COVID jab, no cuddle is certainly a fair stance for parents to take.
So if you’re a pregnant mama currently undecided about whether or not to get the vaccine, don’t listen to me! I’m just an anxious mum trying to do everything she can to protect her babies.
Have a conversation with your GP or OB asap and be led by the science-backed facts. What I do know, however, is that by having two tiny, pain-free needles in my arm filled with life-saving juice created by the world’s smartest scientists, is that I have taken back some control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation.
Bella Brennan is a Sydney-based writer, editor and soon-to-be mum-of-two.