If you’re pregnant and getting vaccinated at Canton City Health Dept., you need a doctor’s note

CANTON — Dr. Sarah Tout is expecting her first baby.

“I’m currently 23 weeks and 6 days pregnant,” she said.

Not only is she pregnant, she’s also an OBGYN at University Hospitals. Day-in and day-out, she is talking to patients about their increased COVID-19 risks and whether they should get the vaccine. She said a lot of women she consults with are on the fence.

“Certainly none of the vaccines that are available have been specifically tested for pregnancy,” she said. “I can understand a lot of different folks, for a lot of different reasons, will have some very strong concerns about whether or not this is something that they can trust.”

Not having clinical trials specifically for pregnant women is why the Canton City Health Dept. is requiring a doctor’s note for any pregnant woman expecting to get a vaccine at its clinics.

“There is that caveat in that emergency use authorization, that people who are pregnant should have a conversation with their medical provider prior to the vaccine,” said health commissioner Jim Adams.

He said the city of Canton is following CDC protocol and will accept multiple forms of proof.

“The most common is something that looks like a prescription or a doctor’s order, but we have gotten emails, we’ve gotten letters, and we’ve accepted all of those as some kind of documentation that they had that conversation,” said Adams.

There were still several appointments available for the vaccination clinic in Canton on Saturday at Lehman Middle School for those who are 18 or older.

Dr. Ellie Ragsdale at University Hospitals said while there are no clinical trials for pregnant women, doctors and researchers have now seen data in real-time.

“That’s mostly health care providers that were vaccinated back in December and January that were pregnant, that we’ve been following out now for five or six months,” said Dr. Ragsdale.

She said out of those women, the data is promising.

“We haven’t seen any increased risk of pregnancy complications, no increased risk of birth defects, no increased risk, preterm deliveries, nothing,” she said. “We also have women who were attempting to conceive, who were going through infertility treatments, who got vaccinated during that, who are now midway through their pregnancy, who are also doing great.”

Dr. Tout, herself, was fully vaccinated by the end of her first trimester.

“It felt like I was doing the single best thing that I could do to protect my own health and my baby, because, ultimately, the best way to protect a baby’s health is to protect the mom,” she said.

Dr. Ragsdale said when she is asked to sign off on vaccination for her patients, she typically does, unless someone has a known allergy to vaccines.

“I think the best available data that we have right now suggests that the best thing a mother can do for her unborn child is get vaccinated for it,” said Dr. Ragsdale.