On April 11th, 2021, the Jewish Orthodox Women’s Medical Association hosted a livestream town hall for women about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr. Naor Bar Zeev, Deputy Director of the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins, opened the session with an extensive overview about vaccine development, which he describes as “usually slow and industry driven.” Given the millions of individuals sick with COVID-19, the clinical trials to study the vaccine were completed extremely quickly and effectively with unprecedented private and public collaboration.
The Pfizer/Biotech and Moderna vaccines utilize mRNA, which is messenger RNA. “The vaccine is not gene therapy; it is not designed to alter, change or interact with our DNA,” shared Dr. Ellie Carmody Stone, Assistant Professor of Infectious Diseases at NYU School of Medicine. She explained that the technology has existed for over 30 years and the vaccine cannot be made into DNA by the body.
Dr. Richard Grazi, Medical Director of Genesis Fertility, spoke about the risks of getting COVID-19 during pregnancy. Hospitalization is more than five times more likely compared to non-pregnant women with COVID-19. Pregnant women with COVID-19 are three times more likely to be in an intensive care unit (ICU) and two-to-three more times more likely to require intubation. “Complications like pre-term delivery and death can occur,” he said. Dr. Grazi shared that the vaccine pregnancy registry which monitors side effects of the vaccine, reported no significant increase in miscarriage, stillbirth, preeclampsia, diabetes, intrauterine growth retardation, preterm birth, or neonatal death. Importantly, vaccinated women who are nursing transfer their antibodies in their milk in a process called passive immunity.
Dr Grazi. shared that vaccines have been around since the 19th century and have never been found to impact fertility or the baby.
The session was skillfully moderated by Dr. Alisa Minkin, pediatrician and chair of the JOWMA preventative health committee. Questions submitted by the audience were directed towards the panelists, ensuring that the public’s concerns regarding the vaccine were addressed directly.
Positive feedback from the event was extensive. Attendees commented:
“This group of rational doctors needs to be heard by more people. Very sober rational presentation. I am a little more relieved about the vaccines.”
“It was very informative and eased a lot of my concerns.”
“Thank you so much for hosting this evening’s event. There is a lot of confusing and conflicting information out there which makes it quite hard to know which option to choose.”
The recording of the town hall is available to watch for free on www.vaxfacts.live and JOWMA’s YouTube channel. For more information about JOWMA Town Halls and webinars, and to access more educational materials about COVID-19, please visit www.jowma.org/COVID19.