Vaccination is one such topic which is talked upon a lot these days. Many COVID19 vaccines have been developed all over the world and people are being vaccinated. So let us understand how vaccines actually work. Vaccines works on the mechanism of provoking immune response and producing antibodies. These antibodies are proteins that attack the pathogen (eg – Virus, Bacteria), blocks its entry, weaken and kill it and provide protection to the body. Some cells called ‘Memory cells’ are produced once a person is vaccinated, which further produce antibodies. As the name suggests, these cells remember the type of antibodies produced and therefore if the same pathogen like virus enters body after being vaccinated, it produces the same type of antibodies and kills the virus.
A very interesting observation was noted when Moderna COVID19 vaccine shot was given to a pregnant frontline health worker in South Florida.
She got her first dose of vaccine at 36 weeks of pregnancy and 3 weeks later she gave birth to a healthy baby girl without completing the second dose.
The baby girl tested positive for the antibodies, which suggested that the antibodies were transferred from mother to baby with only single dose of vaccine. The SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies were detectable in newborn’s cord blood sample after vaccination.
The vaccinated breastfeeding mothers have also shown presence of antibodies in the breast milk which has the capacity to neutralize the virus. This shows that a vaccinated mother can potentially transfer antibodies to the baby via placenta and breast milk, thus provide protection against COVID19.
Does this mean that a pregnant woman can get vaccinated? Although there are studies going on about vaccinating pregnant women, yet there is no clear picture on the safety and efficacy of these vaccines during pregnancy. Hence, there is more research needed in this area.