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Vaccine Likely Beneficial For Breastfed Babies, But Questions Remain

 February 10, 2021 at 4:46 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Wednesday February 10th. Questions remain over whether the covid-19 vaccine affects breastfeeding and babies. That’s next, but first... let’s do the headlines…. San Diego county health officials reported nearly 800 new covid-19 infections on Tuesday and 32 additional deaths. Despite the deaths, hospitalizations and intensive care numbers continue their overall decline. The San Diego county board of supervisors voted on tuesday to reject a proposal to give covid-19 vaccines to all law enforcement personnel. The vote was split with those opposed citing the limited availability of vaccine doses and the need to finish inoculating health care workers and seniors. Supervisor Joel Anderson made the proposal, saying it was important to prioritize those in uniform who are at risk every day on the job. In another vote, the board of supervisors unanimously approved a proposal to declare the cross border sewage flow coming out of the Tijuana River valley a Public Health Crisis. Supervisor Nora Vargas said the action is needed because of the decades-long contamination of River Valley, which has resulted in environmental and health damage. The declaration of a public health crisis requires the county to take action. From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. No clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines were done on pregnant or breastfeeding women. And that’s something that’s usually standard practice for any new drug or vaccine. Some doctors say it was a mistake to exclude pregnant women, and they’re now studying breast milk from women who got the shots. KPBS Investigative Reporter Claire Traegeser has more. “I panicked, I was like, ‘what have I done, that was a total mistake.’” Pictures in Jennifer folder Jennifer Elwell, a nurse at UC San Diego, recalls a scary moment after breastfeeding her eight-month-old son. She had just received her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and knew the science behind her decision. “It just seemed like an easy way to help my baby...but when I got home and fed the baby, I looked at my husband and said what have I done.” Doctors and medical experts recommend women who receive the vaccines continue breastfeeding. In fact, the conventional wisdom among medical professionals is that women who get the vaccine likely pass on protective antibodies to the baby through their milk. But Elwell’s uncertainty is understandable given the fact that no clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines were done on pregnant or breastfeeding women. “Hindsight is 2020, though we shouldn’t use 2020 anymore as an example because it was a horrible year clearly.” Dr. Lars Bode (BORE-duh) runs the UC San Diego Mother-Milk-Infant Center of Research Excellence, which is now studying the impact of the vaccine on breastmilk. “The notion was to originally protect women when they’re in this vulnerable space of being either pregnant or breastfeeding, but really what we should do is protect women and their babies by including them in the research and then have data on whether it’s safe or not.” For the past six years, UC San Diego has run a collection center for breastmilk called Mommy’s Milk that studies the effects of all kinds of things on mother’s milk. Dr. Christina Chambers is the founder and director. “Can a mother provide protection to her baby...We’ll also look at other things about the milk, whether there’s a fat protein change, difference in milk supply, and indications if the baby has any unusual signs or symptoms.” So far, 1,200 women from across the country who’ve received a vaccine are shipping Mommy’s Milk bags of pumped breastmilk. Picture of breastmilk bags “file.jpeg” One bag from before the vaccine and seven more over two months after getting the first dose. Answers to questions regarding the vaccines’ impact on the health of babies will take the most time, but the researchers are cautiously optimistic they will find antibodies. They also expect to find that the vaccines do not put anything in breastmilk that is harmful to babies. Pictures in Christina and Kathryn folder (use the “my milk was spiked” picture!!!) All of these theories were compelling to Dr. Kathryn Pade, an ER doctor at Rady Children’s Hospital and mother of a six-month-old. She took the vaccine, continues to breastfeed and is one of the study participants. As any breastfeeding mother knows, it can feel painful to give up any pumped milk, but Pade said it was worth it in this case. “They took one to two ounces with each sample, so in total it’s 15 to 20 ounces. That’s not even a day’s worth of feed, and it was worth it for science.” Pictures in Carly and Alicia folder That science is what other moms like Carly Keatts are waiting for. She is breastfeeding her son and is generally very pro vaccine, but says it’s hard to make a decision without data. “There’s no actual data yet saying anything from the vaccine doesn’t pass through, and if it does, maybe it’s good or bad, but there’s nothing in the data yet saying it’s 100% good for me and the baby.” Keatts may have an answer by the time it’s her turn for a vaccine, as results from the first 500 women from the UC San Diego study are expected in a few months. That reporting from KPBS Investigative Reporter Claire Traegeser. And as always you can find the full, longer versions of Claire’s investigative work right here on the San Diego News Now podcast. Coming up.... the latest update on vaccination efforts in San Diego, along with more local news just after the break. About 12,000 San Diegians received a covid-19 vaccine in the first week of February. So far that’s well below the daily goal needed to vaccinate a majority of the population by July. KPBS Health Reporter Tarryn Mento has more on the numbers. There needs to be more than 22,000 daily doses administered in the region to reach that 70% goal. County-operated sites can administer 21,000 doses a day. But supply issues from the state are keeping the region below that, says County Health and Human Services Agency Director Nick Macchione. “Last week, to give you in that sense, we received just over a quarter of what we requested from the state.” Macchione says the county is working to further expand its capacity to 35,000 doses a day by the end of this month. In the meantime, there still are 140,000 doses in the county waiting to be administered. Macchione says the county is working with the region's nearly 300 vaccine providers to ensure they use up doses within a week of receiving them. That story is part of our ongoing coverage of the road to vaccinating 1.8 million San Diegans. See more of our vaccine coverage at A massive portfolio of low-cost apartments is going up for sale. That is raising alarms for local affordable housing advocates.. KPBS Metro reporter Andrew Bowen explains. AB: Before he died in 2016, Conrad Prebys donated hundreds of millions of dollars to institutions including the San Diego Zoo, La Jolla Music Society and KPBS. He made his fortune in real estate, building thousands of apartments across San Diego County. Nearly 6,000 of those homes owned by the Conrad Prebys estate are now up for sale. And advocates are worried new owners would upgrade the units and charge higher rents. The properties in the portfolio are now relatively affordable to low-income families not because of public subsidies but because they're older and maybe a bit dated. Stephen Russell of the San Diego Housing Federation says investors looking to upgrade and flip the homes can make a quick profit. SR: And when it's done incrementally, the impact on the community is not great. It's when you do a very large complex at once or in this case an enormous portfolio maybe staged over several years, you're going to see major displacement. AB: The Conrad Prebys Foundation told KPBS it will use proceeds from the sale to continue its charitable giving and that current laws, including the California Tenant Protection Act, would be enough to “safeguard” the tenants living in these properties. And that was KPBS Metro Reporter Andrew Bowen. The San Diego city council got a presentation from city staff on just how much it’s going to cost the city to fix it’s aging and ailing infrastructure. KPBS’ John Carroll reports. The council learned that over the next five years, the city estimates it will have five-point-seven billion dollars worth of infrastructure needs. Right now, it only has three-point-four-billion to spend to fix things - leaving a two-point-three billion dollar gap. Of that, nearly one-point-three billion, is what it’s going to take to fix San Diego’s crumbling stormwater infrastructure. District 3 councilman Stephen Whitburn says it’s time to spend what it takes for permanent fixes. Otherwise, he says taxpayers are just throwing good money after bad. “The city has to take money from parks projects and library projects and sidewalk repairs to pay for these sudden expenses.” Today’s presentation on the city’s infrastructure was just informational, so no votes were taken. But it’s now more clear than ever that some tough decisions are coming. And that was KPBS’ John Carroll. The first female marines started their training in San Diego on tuesday. They arrived in San Diego two weeks ago to pilot efforts to integrate training for women.KPBS Military Reporter Steve Walsh has more. The first company to include female recruits in the 100 year history of MCRD San Diego, officially stepped on the yellow footprints that signify the beginning of training. Staff SGt. AYESHA ZANTT was brought in from Parris Island to be part of the first team of female drill instructors. As a Drill Instructor, she was blunt. “They have something to prove. They are the only females that are training right now. This is the first female platoon, so they are going to be going against all their brothers inside of that whole company. They have to show everyone that they are worthy to be here.” This is still officially a test to show what the Marines need to expand boot camp to women in San Diego. Commanders at MCRD, say, for now, very few changes were put into place for this first class -- where men and women together -- embark on the 13 weeks it takes to become a US Marine. That story from KPBS Military Reporter Steve Walsh That’s it for the podcast today. KPBS will be airing day two of the Impeachment trial for Former President Donald Trump. You can hear it live on KPBS 89.5 FM starting at 10am, or watch it on KPBS 2 on television. You can also catch it streaming live online at KPBS dot org, where you can also get the latest news and recaps of the day. I’m Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

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No clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines were done on pregnant or breastfeeding women — so there’s a lack of data on how the vaccine will affect the health of babies and their mothers. But now studies are underway at UCSD and elsewhere to evaluate how the vaccine affects breast milk. Meanwhile, affordable housing advocates are warning that the sale of a massive portfolio of low-cost apartments in San Diego county could displace current residents. Plus, over the next five years, $5.7 billion dollars will be needed to fix the city’s infrastructure, according to a report by the San Diego City staff.