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Orlando OBGYN Battles Misinformation About Vaccines, Pregnancy & COVID-19

Dr. Rachel Humphey. Photo: Matthew Peddie / WMFE
Dr. Rachel Humphey. Photo: Matthew Peddie / WMFE

As the number of patients being treated for COVID-19 begins to decline, hospitals are starting to scale back some of the measures they had at the peak of the latest surge. 

AdventHealth Orlando announced this week they were moving from 'Black Status' to 'Red Status ' and allowing additional surgical procedures that had been put on hold to go ahead.

But there are still a lot of patients with COVID-19 in hospital and fighting for their lives. 

Dr. Rachel Humphrey, AdventHealth Orlando’s director of high risk pregnancy care, says pregnant women are among those patients, and many of them are unvaccinated.

"I'm living in two different worlds. I'm living in the world of the hospital where we have very real struggles occurring with young women who are pregnant, who are incredibly sick and fighting for their life with COVID-19. And then I live in this other world where I see patients in the office, who are hesitant to be vaccinated, despite what we know of the safety of the vaccine and the recommendations that I and others are providing those patients with."

She says one of the most common things she hears from those patients who are unvaccinated and their families is that they didn’t get the shot because they didn’t know if it was safe. 

“Having the vaccine almost increases the tragedy, because, when we’re having people die this month and during this big peak, these are all people that could have been vaccinated, and that sort of heightens to me the sadness that comes along with all the loss that we’re dealing with.” 

Dr. Humphrey says some of the most common concerns people have is that the vaccine could cause a miscarriage or give the baby congenital issues, or that vaccination can lead to infertility. She says she has not read any scientific studies linking vaccination-- or COVID-19 infection- to infertility. 

"Studies have shown that there's no overlap between the proteins that a woman carries in a reproductive system and the proteins of COVID. So it doesn't make sense that being vaccinated or having the infection would be linked to infertility at all."

She's optimistic that with hospitalizations falling, the worst of the surge is behind us, but adds the pandemic is not over yet.

"The way that this virus is winning against us, in a sense, is that it has such a huge population of unvaccinated people that it can continue to propel and live on and infect us. And so the best way out of this is by getting people vaccinated."