At 35 weeks pregnant, Dr. Nayeli Rodulfo-Zayas, an emergency medicine physician in San Antonio, Texas, received her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Rodulfo-Zayas, mother of a 2-year-old, discussed with Good Morning America her decision and hoped to inspire other pregnant women to receive the vaccine.
The physician also hopes that women will have critical conversations with their health care providers about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
As the vaccine rollout continues, questions remain whether the vaccine will be safe for children and those who are pregnant. Women who are pregnant have not been included in the late-stage trials for any vaccines, including the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use mRNA technology, which uses pieces of viral genetic material to research and develop a defense against future infection.
Rodulfo-Zayas said knowing the science of mRNA technology helped her make her decision to get vaccinated.
“That in itself is one of the reasons why I decided to take the vaccine, because I understand the science and I’m confident in the science, and also because I’m at high risk of catching the disease,” the physician said. “I’m a Hispanic woman and I work around COVID patients constantly.”
“I had a discussion with my obstetrician-gynecologist and we decided that the best thing for me was to get the vaccine,” she added.
The physician explained how the decision was personal due to losing her 57-year-old mother to COVID-19 in 2020.
Rodulfo-Zayas explained how her mother had diabetes, high blood pressure and was on dialysis. After her mother’s passing, it hurt her to know that she could have received the vaccine six more months after her death.
The Texas native received her first dose of the vaccination in mid-December and her second dose on January 7. She said she did have some minor side effects from the second shot, including chills and a fever that went away in less than 24 hours.
“I just want people to know that the [vaccine] side effects are minimal, that they do exist, they do make some people feel sick, but it’s temporary, and it really doesn’t compare at all what I’ve seen people go through when they get COVID and they are hospitalized,” she said. “They pale in comparison to what people go through when they get COVID and need oxygen.”
Rudolfo-Zayas said she urges pregnant women to speak with their health care providers about whether they should receive the COVID-19 vaccine. She also said it’s essential to consider the risks of not getting vaccinated.