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Published on July 30, 2021

jennifer stearns and family

Baby Stanley Has COVID Antibodies – Thanks to His Mom’s Decision to Get Vaccinated

You might think for a registered nurse who works for Avera, getting vaccinated would be an easy decision for Jennifer Stearns. It was not. But her choice led to a great outcome.

“The relief to learn that my son, Stanley, had acquired the antibodies, so we were both protected against COVID-19. It was overwhelming,” said Jennifer Stearns, RN, an Avera clinical information technology nurse. Born March 9, he soon was tested to see if his blood had COVID-19 antibodies. “We got his test results on March 10, the first anniversary of the pandemic.”

As she held her new son, the hospital observed the anniversary with a moment of silence. With her husband, Lauren, the family prayed together. She reflected on her decision to get the shot, and its impact.

“When I saw the results, I realized how it was going to help. It will show other moms, doctors – everyone – that receiving the vaccine while pregnant can provide the baby with a level of protection as well,” Stearns said. “It was as if an immense weight came off my shoulders.”

Researching the COVID Vaccine and Pregnancy

When Stearns was pregnant with her other children, she made big changes in lifestyle to ensure safe pregnancies.

“I always quit caffeine and stopped use of any over-the-counter medications – so getting vaccinated was scary for me. I started to research it,” she said. “I was on the sites for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist, just pouring over information.”

That was in January. She said her analysis led her to talk with her mom, who is also a registered nurse, with her OB physician, Gregg Carlson, MD, and of course with her husband, who is also a registered nurse.

“As I read about pregnancy and the virus, it became really clear the potential danger we could face. My reasons for worrying were all about the baby,” she said.

Understanding the Guidelines for Pregnant Women

The CDC recommends the vaccine for pregnant women, as does Avera Medical Group.

The vaccine is shown to be as much as 95% effective in preventing COVID-19, and even more effective in preventing serious illness from COVID-19. Side effects of the vaccine are very rare. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) reports that thousands of women who got the vaccine while pregnant have been studied and reported pregnancy outcomes no different from those who are not vaccinated.

  • Vaccination is a personal choice and something pregnant women should discuss with their OB providers.
  • If you are pregnant, you may choose to get vaccinated.
  • Current COVID-19 vaccines are non-replicating, so they pose no risk for lactating mothers or their babies

Stearns said she reviewed all the information available, and encourages any other mom to do the same. “It was the best decision for me, and since everything with a novel virus is new, there are going to be areas that have not been studied,” she said.

baby stanleyBaby Stanley

Relief and Gratitude About Baby Stanley’s Antibodies

Since Stanley Joseph’s birth in March, Stearns said her family has learned to slow down and appreciate their blessings.

“We realized that even though we had the vaccine, we still had to be on guard,” she said. “We still wear masks, avoid crowds and take the steps everyone should to reduce possible spread.”

Stearns said she hopes her experiences will ease the mind of other moms-to-be who are naturally worried and wondering about what to do.

“Talk to your OB and listen to your own thoughts – I am glad that I did,” she said. “If the test we got helps one other person, we’ll be so grateful.”

Learn more about vaccination locations near you. The vaccine is recommended for everyone 5 and older.

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