Published: May 18, 2021
Meet Jenny: #BSFBeatCOVID19
This past year has been filled with many tough, emotional questions that were left unanswered for months on end.
How long will this shutdown last?
Will my kids ever return to school in person?
Is daycare safe for my toddler?
When can I see my family again?
When you add in a pregnancy, the list of questions can start to feel overwhelming at best.
Jenny, an Army spouse and applied researcher, found herself trying to sift through that list of questions. Towards the end of 2020, she and her husband learned they were expecting their second child, due July 2021. For the most part, Jenny’s family had fared well during the pandemic. She and her husband maintained their employment. Plus, having just returned home from a deployment, he was able to take time off to help care for their five-year-old when their daycare closed. Not to mention, they got to focus on time together as a family with weekend hiking trips. But when the COVID-19 vaccines were given emergency use approval, Jenny landed on a question she couldn’t easily answer: Should she get vaccinated while pregnant?
As mentioned earlier, Jenny is an applied researcher. When in doubt, she looks to the evidence for answers. First, she consulted her OB-GYN. She was told to go ahead and get vaccinated when it was first available, as it was safe for her and the baby. But things aren’t always as simple for military families. “Right around the time when the vaccines were becoming available, our family moved across the country with the military,” Jenny shared. “My original doctor was adamant that the vaccine was safe, but my new doctor wasn’t nearly as sure. I was advised to wait and possibly not get the vaccine at all.”
As a result, Jenny found herself really struggling. If medical professionals weren’t on the same page, how could she feel confident making this decision for herself and her family? Jenny knew she wasn’t alone, however. Her efforts at work involved developing a better understanding of vaccine hesitancy among military families. She found herself in the same boat as those she was studying.
In an effort to get clarity, Jenny turned to Blue Star Families’ Homefront and Frontlines Town Hall series. She had a chance to ask Dr. Fauci her question directly: Was the vaccine safe for pregnant women? “Dr. Fauci answered that, while in theory the vaccine should be safe for pregnant women, given the timeline, there wasn’t evidence yet to definitively prove that,” Jenny recalled. “I have never been opposed to the vaccine in general, but without evidence to support its safety for pregnant women, I decided the best decision for me was to wait.”
Deciding to wait wasn’t an easy choice for Jenny. She felt, in a way, it was an unpopular choice, and she found herself feeling defensive of those who expressed hesitancy about the vaccine—as if she needed to stand up for them given that she was facing those same tough questions about what to do. Plus, ultimately, Jenny wished she did feel safe getting the vaccine. “We moved to an area where people were not taking virus precautions very seriously, compared to Washington State where we moved from,” Jenny shared. “I frequently see people in grocery stores without masks and restaurant parking lots that are packed. I don’t feel as safe here for that reason, and I certainly don’t want my baby to be exposed to it without some protection. I also worried about the risk of not being vaccinated. As a pregnant woman, I’m at higher risk of contracting a serious case, and that puts our baby at risk of preterm delivery, too. The research shows that contracting the coronavirus is a far greater threat than the vaccine.”
After anxiously waiting, Jenny received the news she was hoping for. The CDC officially announced it had enough evidence to support the fact that the vaccine was safe for pregnant women. Now, given the indisputable evidence, Jenny is on the road to being fully vaccinated and feeling better protected for herself and her children. She received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and, by the time this story is published, she will be fully vaccinated.
For Jenny, the decision to get vaccinated and feel comfortable with her choice took time and careful consideration. She relied on credible, evidence-based information made available to her. And that’s the goal of the #BSFBeatCOVID19 campaign. Together with our Blue Star Partners, we’re arming our military community–service members, families, veterans, leaders, organizations, and supporters–with information to make informed decisions about the vaccine. We’re doing this by removing barriers and improving access to the information needed to protect everyone against the virus.
Join us at bluestarfam.org/beatcovid19, and follow along on social media with the hashtag #BSFBeatCOVID19.