Illinois mom denied COVID-19 vaccine over breastfeeding concerns: ‘I was shocked’

on Feb5
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An Illinois mother is feeling shocked and upset after she was denied a Moderna coronavirus vaccine by county health officials over concerns of lacking data for pregnant and breastfeeding women, according to a report.

Kate Raess, a clinical therapist and mother of two, did her research and consulted her doctor before heading into her vaccination appointment with the Kane County Health Department, the Chicago Tribune reported. After Raess sat down in the chair, she was denied the vaccine.

“I was so shocked,” Raess told the outlet. “To sit down in that metal chair and be told no, it’s like someone took a pin to a little kid’s balloon.”


Susan Stack, a spokesperson for the Kane County Health Department, told Fox News there has since been a revision in the policy which now allows for vaccinations among pregnant and breastfeeding women. She declined to comment on the reported incident involving Raess.

“Upon consultation with the Illinois Department of Public Health, and with the guidance of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists and Centers for Disease Control, which state that pregnant and lactating people may choose to receive COVID vaccines, KCHD is providing vaccines to pregnant and lactating women who choose to be vaccinated,” reads a statement provided to Fox News.

Raess told the paper of “this internalized sense of shame and judgment — that a county board felt that I couldn’t make this decision, and they would make it for me.”

Raess, the mother to a 22-month-old daughter and an 11-week-old son, said she and her husband weighed on the decision whether to receive the vaccine for months, which would ease worries when she shifts into in-person services with clients, instead of telehealth. 

Before the health department revised its policy, Raess told the Chicago Tribue that she planned to schedule an appointment for a vaccine elsewhere.


Directives for pregnant or breastfeeding women on receiving the vaccine have been muddled, with experts voicing concerns that inconsistent information could confuse expectant women hoping to learn if they should be vaccinated against COVID-19 or not. 

The World Health Organization last week, for instance, reversed its guidance on pregnant women receiving the coronavirus vaccine created by Moderna, now saying it recommends the jab for expectant persons. 

“We don’t have any specific reason to believe there will be specific risks that would outweigh the benefits of vaccination for pregnant women,” the WHO said in part, in the updated guidance.

Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci on Thursday told the American Medical Association that there have been “no red flags” in trials of more than 10,000 pregnant women who have taken the COVID-19 vaccine “thus far.”

“The FDA, as part of the typical follow-up you have following the initial issuing of a EUA, have found thus far…no red flags,” he said.

He added that “many of the pregnant women” in the trials “were health care providers” who were exposed to COVID-19 and opted to take their “chances” with the vaccine rather than become infected with COVID-19, which some medical experts warn could have an adverse effect on pregnancy or pregnant women.


Indeed, a recent NIH-funded study suggested pregnant women who contract severe COVID-19 disease face a heightened risk of death and preterm delivery compared to those with asymptomatic cases of the illness. But adverse outcomes were not associated with mild-to-moderate coronavirus infections. 

Severe COVID-19 among pregnant women raises the risk of serious birth complications like heavy, abnormal bleeding after birth, C-sections, high blood pressure and preterm delivery, the study said.

Separately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said pregnant women should be counseled about the importance of seeking prompt medical care if they develop symptoms of coronavirus, and that there should be a strong emphasis on coronavirus prevention for pregnant women at each medical appointment.

Fox News’ Audrey Conklin and Madeline Farber contributed to this report.

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