Pregnant women not part of Wisconsin's priority vaccine groups

Clinical trials start this week to evaluate Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine on pregnant women. It comes as more states are moving pregnant women up the list of groups eligible to receive shots.

In Wisconsin, though, there has been no mention of including those who are pregnant among priority recipient groups.

Pregnant women in Wisconsin can only receive the vaccine if they are already part of another eligible group, such as health care workers. Meanwhile, pregnant women and their babies are at increased risk of adverse COVID-19 effects.

At 14 weeks along, Wauwatosa resident Zoe Hastert will likely be eligible for the vaccine before she's due to give birth in August.

"I would like to be vaccinated late second trimester, early third trimester so that my next daughter, I’m pregnant with a girl, can have antibodies as well," Hastert said.

However, many women in Wisconsin who are due earlier may never have the opportunity. Pregnant women are not currently eligible as part of the state's phases 1a and 1b.

The CDC's advisory committee on immunization practices recommends pregnant women be included in Phase 1c. Not only are they at increased risk of serious complications and death from COVID-19, the DC said the infection may cause preterm labor.

"I think it would be a misstep on the state’s part, to be completely honest, to not open this up to another group of at-risk people," said Hastert.

COVID-19 vaccine

While places like New York, Illinois and Tennessee have already taken steps to expand vaccine eligibility to pregnant women, there has been no similar discussion in Wisconsin.

When FOX6 News asked why not, the state's immunization program manager dodged the question:

"Certainly if a pregnant woman falls into one of the categories, such as currently being a healthcare provider, they would be eligible for vaccination at this time," said Stephanie Schauer, with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Division of Public Health immunization program

Stephanie Schauer

Hastert said getting vaccinated is ultimately a personal decision, one that pregnant women should at least have the option to consider.

""Being able to take advantage of that early on, helps my baby, helps my family, helps with the data collection and the research," Hastert said.

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Data on COVID-19 vaccine safety during pregnancy still remain limited; pregnant women were not included in clinical trials until now.

The CDC said the vaccine is unlikely to pose a health risk.

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