Local physicians discussed the COVID-19 vaccines as they pertain to women’s health during a women’s health town hall late last week at Lubbock’s Citizens Tower.
The City of Lubbock co-hosted this town hall event Thursday with Covenant Health, the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and UMC Health System.
The panelists included OBGYN’s, pulmonologists, pediatricians and psychiatrists who answered questions from the public and provided self-testimonies.
Community members had submitted questions prior to the townhall, expressing their concerns for vaccines in new moms, fertility, vaccines in pregnancy, mental health and postpartum depression, and why the vaccine is important.
During the town hall, new moms asked about babies receiving any immunity against COVID-19 if a mother becomes vaccinated while breastfeeding or during pregnancy.
Dr. Bennet Henderson, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist at Covenant Health addressed that question, saying women who are breast feeding and have been vaccinated will pass antibodies into their breast milk, which is a good way to provide immunity to vulnerable babies.
The panelists also targeted some myths and concerns, including potential vaccine impacts on fertility and some side effects on newborns.
Addressing questions from community members who had concerns that the vaccines were tested and created using fetal cells, Dr. Jessica Gray, a UMC Family Medicine physician, said fetal cell lines have been previously used in the creation of several other vaccines including the hepatitis A vaccine, the rabies vaccine, and chickenpox vaccine, however the mRNA vaccines, Moderna and Pfizer were never derived at any point from fetal cells.
“So that’s good news for anybody who had this concern or reason on why they were maybe not going to get that vaccine,” Gray said.
Dr. Henderson responded to other concerns about vaccine effects on fertility, saying there is no evidence of the link between the COVID-19 vaccine and infertility.
Dr. Vanessa Dalton, specializing in pediatrics at Covenant Health, addressed safety concerns about vaccines for kids.
Dalton said a rigorous study overseen by FDA shows the vaccine is safe for use among young children. The FDA last month approved use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 12.
“In fact, the studies are showing that the vaccines in the younger children might actually have less side effects,” she added.
Some community members also expressed how the pandemic has made a significant impact on pediatric mental health and women’s mental health and asked if the vaccines are helping to deal with that.
Dr. Aarah Mallard Wakefield, chair of psychiatry at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, said having access to the vaccine has the potential to make a significant impact on overall mental health after the stresses society has endured through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic, the social isolation, staying home and the separation has affected everyone, Wakefield said, but the vaccine has the potential to end much of that.
Dr. Gray said the town hall was an effort made to clear any misinformation and provide answers to the community and that the discussion was not driven by major pharmaceutical companies or the government.
Video of the town hall meeting is available through the city’s website and will be broadcast on the city’s cable channel 2.