Pros and Cons of Covid Vaccine While Pregnant

You’ve probably heard a lot about the COVID-19 vaccines, but what if you’re pregnant? Here are some of the pros and cons to help you decide. There is not enough data yet to know how vaccines will impact pregnancy. While most people experience mild side effects, about 10% of recipients experience more severe side effects like high fever and a headache. Pregnant people should not participate in clinical trials for the vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that pregnant people have the option to get the vaccine. A vaccine will allow you to be with your family again soon.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that pregnant people have the option to get the vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that pregnant people have the option to get the vaccine. This recommendation is based on a review of data from studies done on pregnant women who received the vaccine to see if there were any effects on their babies. The CDC found no evidence of adverse events in these babies.

Pregnant people should not participate in clinical trials for the vaccines.

Pregnant people should not participate in clinical trials for the vaccines.

If you are pregnant and taking part in a clinical trial for any vaccine, you should not receive the vaccine. If you are breastfeeding, you should not receive any vaccines.

There is no evidence that mRNA vaccines are harmful to pregnant people, but there is no specific data.

You should know that the vaccine is safe for pregnant people. There is no evidence that mRNA vaccines are harmful to pregnant people, but there is no specific data.

The company who makes Covid states that it’s not recommended for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. The reason for this is because it hasn’t been tested on pregnant women, and we don’t know if it might harm your baby, since most vaccines have not been tested on pregnant women before being approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

If you are a woman in her first trimester of pregnancy and feel like you want to get the vaccine anyway, talk with your healthcare provider about their opinion on getting a vaccination during this time period!

While most people experience mild side effects, about 10% of recipients experience more severe side effects like high fever and a headache.

In general, the side effects of covid vaccine are mild and most people experience only mild side effects. About one in 10 recipients will experience more severe symptoms like high fever and headache.

These side effects usually go away within a few days after receiving the shot. The severity of these reactions is greater in people who have a weakened immune system due to health conditions like HIV or AIDS, cancer treatment or being over 65 years old.

There is not enough data yet to know how vaccines will impact pregnancy.

While the vaccine is generally safe, there’s not enough data to know how it will impact pregnancy. We don’t know how the vaccines will affect breastfeeding or a baby’s development. But we do know that you need to be in good health to have a healthy pregnancy and baby, which means getting all of your recommended vaccines before becoming pregnant.

If you have any questions about whether you should get vaccinated during pregnancy, talk with your health care provider for more information.

The current vaccines were tested in mice, monkeys and some clinical trials did include women who were breastfeeding.

The current vaccines were tested in mice, monkeys and some clinical trials did include women who were breastfeeding. However, there is not enough data yet to know how vaccines will impact pregnancy or breastfeeding.

A vaccine will allow you to be with your family again soon

If you are pregnant and have been exposed to the covid virus, then you need to get vaccinated immediately.

Vaccines will help you recover faster. Vaccines will help you to get back to your normal life as soon as possible so that you can be with your family again. This is important because of the emotional stress that comes with being separated from loved ones due to illness or injury.

Vaccines will also help protect both the mother and child from future complications when they are born healthy at full term, which is crucial for bonding between a parent and child in early development stages.

Conclusion

If you are pregnant, you should talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated. The CDC recommends that pregnant people have the option to get vaccinated. There is no evidence that mRNA vaccines are harmful to pregnant people, but there is no specific data on their use during pregnancy yet. However, as we have seen in mice and monkeys, there is a good chance they will not cause any harm and may even provide some protection against covid-19. If you decide not to be vaccinated while pregnant or breastfeeding now then it’s important to continue protecting yourself through other means such as wearing masks when out of the house and washing your hands frequently with soap and water after coming into contact with others who may be infected by covid-19.

Key messages

  • COVID-19 vaccines are strongly recommended in pregnancy. Vaccination is the best way to protect against the known risks of COVID-19 in pregnancy for both women and babies, including admission of the woman to intensive care and premature birth of the baby.
  • In the UK, all adults including pregnant women are urged to book a COVID-19 booster vaccine 3 months after their second dose.
  • With the Omicron variant in circulation, it’s particularly important for pregnant women to have a full course of COVID-19 vaccines if they have not already done so, to protect themselves and their babies – having the two doses and booster makes you 88% less likely to be admitted to hospital with COVID-19 than those who are unvaccinated.
  • Women may wish to discuss the benefits and risks of being vaccinated with their healthcare professional and reach a joint decision based on individual circumstances.
  • Women should not stop breastfeeding in order to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • Women trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination and there is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines will affect fertility.
  • Having a COVID-19 vaccine will not remove the requirement for employers to carry out a risk assessment for pregnant employees, which should follow the rules set out in Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance.
  • See our media statements on COVID-19 vaccination and pregnancy

Resources to help with decision making

Vaccination is strongly recommended in pregnancy, but the decision whether to recevie a COVID-19 vaccine is your choice. You may find the following resources helpful:

COVID-19 Information leaflet and decision aidPDF 414kb

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What is the latest advice on COVID-19 vaccination and pregnancy?

COVID-19 vaccines are strongly recommended in pregnancy.

On 16 December 2021, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) announced that pregnant women are now considered a ‘vulnerable’ group within the COVID-19 vaccination programme, emphasising the urgency of them receiving COVID-19 vaccination and booster doses.

Vaccination is the best way to protect against the known risks of COVID-19 in pregnancy for both women and babies, including admission to intensive care and premature birth.

The decision whether to have the vaccination in pregnancy is your choice. Make sure you understand as much as you can about COVID-19 and the vaccines available to you. You may want to discuss your options with a trusted source such as your doctor or midwife.

Are pregnant women being given booster vaccines?

Yes. On 12 December 2021, the government announced that all adults in the UK, including pregnant women, should book a COVID-19 booster vaccine (third dose) by the end of the year. Booster vaccines can be given 3 months (91 days) after your second dose.

We strongly encourage all pregnant women to have the COVID-19 booster vaccination as it provides the best protection against the virus for you and your baby.

High-risk people with underlying medical conditions causing immunosuppression will be eligible for an extra ‘spring booster’ in 2022, once they are 6 months from their last dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Pregnant woman who fall into this group are strongly recommended to get this extra spring booster when invited to attend for it.

What is the advice on going to work if I am pregnant and have been vaccinated?

According to the government’s health and safety advice on COVID-19, and advice for pregnant employees, employers must carry out a risk assessment for pregnant employees taking into consideration the RCOG/RCM guidance on COVID-19 in pregnancy. Employers are still required to carry out a risk assessment whether an employee has been vaccinated or not.

Are vaccines normally used in pregnancy?

Pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding are already routinely and safely offered vaccines in pregnancy, for example to protect against influenza (flu) and whooping cough. Many of these vaccines also protect their babies from infection. These vaccines, like the COVID-19 vaccines, are non-‘live’ vaccines, which are generally considered safe in pregnancy.

Is COVID-19 vaccination safe and effective for pregnant women and their babies?

Robust real-world data from the United States – where over 200 000 pregnant women have been vaccinated mainly with mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Spikevax – have not raised any safety concerns. Therefore, the JCVI advises that it is preferable for the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Spikevax mRNA vaccines to be offered to pregnant women in the UK, where available.

The UKHSA (formally Public Health England) and Public Health Scotland have reported that well over 100 000 pregnant women have received a COVID-19 vaccine in England and Scotland, with no serious adverse effects recorded. UKHSA data from December 2021 reported that 53.7% of women who gave birth had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine prior to delivery, and 43.3% of women giving birth had received two doses.

COVID-19 vaccines do not contain ingredients that are known to be harmful to pregnant women or to a developing baby. Studies of the vaccines in animals to look at the effects on pregnancy have shown no evidence that the vaccines cause harm to the pregnancy or to fertility.

The COVID-19 vaccines being used in the UK are not ‘live’ vaccines and so cannot cause COVID-19 infection in you or your baby. Vaccines based on live viruses are avoided in pregnancy in case they infect the developing baby and cause harm. However, non-live vaccines have previously been shown to be safe in pregnancy (for example, flu and whooping cough).

Studies have shown that protective antibodies from vaccination do cross the placenta, helping with the baby’s immunity to COVID-19. We know that catching COVID-19 during pregnancy can cause severe illness in a pregnant woman which is why COVID-19 vaccine in pregnancy is so strongly recommended.

What is known about the impact of COVID-19 vaccination on babies born to women who have been vaccinated in pregnancy?

As these are new vaccines, there are limited data on the long-term effects on babies born to women who received a COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy. However, similar to other non-live vaccines (such as flu and whooping cough), COVID-19 vaccines are not ‘live’ vaccines and so cannot cause infection, and these have been given to women in pregnancy for many years without any safety concerns.

The mRNA vaccines (Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna Spikevax) are also quickly broken down once they have been injected – within a few days of vaccination there will be no vaccine mRNA left.

Studies have shown that protective antibodies developed from vaccination can transfer from mother to baby across the placenta, and after birth through breast milk, helping with the baby’s immunity to COVID-19. The degree of protection this provides to the baby is unknown at present and more research is needed.

The data available shows that if a pregnant woman has a COVID-19 vaccine she is not at an increased risk of having adverse pregnancy outcomes. Research from 16 studies in five countries, involving more than 185 000 people vaccinated in pregnancy, reported no increased risk of miscarriage, preterm birth or stillbirth following vaccination. Nor does vaccination increase the risk of a small-for-gestational age baby or developing congenital anomalies.

One of these studies from St George’s, University of London, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (AJOG) on 9 August 2021, compared pregnancy outcomes for women who had received a COVID-19 vaccine and those who had not. The study found there were no significant differences between the two groups, with no increase in stillbirths or premature births, no anomalies with development and no evidence of babies being smaller or bigger.

More research is being done, monitoring both the mother and baby’s health during pregnancy and for a year after the baby’s birth. We know the COVID-19 vaccines are safe in pregnancy, but this is the next step in looking at the level of protection they provide, what the best interval between doses is, and the immune responses produced in both the mother and baby after vaccination.

Should I have a COVID-19 vaccine if I plan to become pregnant?

Yes, this is strongly recommended. Getting vaccinated before pregnancy will help prevent COVID-19 infection and its serious consequences.

Women who are trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination.

I am currently trying to get pregnant. I have had the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, should I delay pregnancy until after the second dose?

One dose of COVID-19 vaccination gives you some protection against infection, but it is thought that this is not long-lasting and may not protect you for the whole of pregnancy or against the newer COVID-19 variants (such as Omicron).

COVID-19 vaccines are strongly recommended to pregnant women. Vaccination is the best way to protect against the known risks of COVID-19 in pregnancy for both women and babies, including admission to intensive care and premature birth.

Women who are trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy until after their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

If you find out you are pregnant after you have had a partial vaccination course (between doses), you are strongly advised to have your second dose 8 weeks after your first dose, and your booster 3 months after your second dose. COVID-19 vaccines are considered safe and effective at any stage of pregnancy and there’s no evidence that you need to delay vaccination until after the first 12 weeks.

We recommend you complete the course of vaccination before giving birth, or before you enter the third trimester, when the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 is greatest.

Your decision should take into account your personal exposures to and risks from COVID-19. You can discuss these risks with a doctor or your midwife, and you may want to use the RCOG and RCM decision tool to assist you in deciding what to do next.

When in pregnancy can I be vaccinated?

COVID-19 vaccines are considered to be very safe and effective at any stage of pregnancy. There’s no evidence that you need to delay vaccination until after the first 12 weeks.

One dose of COVID-19 vaccine gives you good protection against the original infection, but with the Delta variant of the virus, two doses are needed to give a good level of immunity. You are advised to have your second dose 8 weeks after the first dose. A booster dose is strongly recommended to provide the best protection against the Omicron variant.

Some women with underlying high-risk medical conditions causing immunosuppression may be advised to have a further booster (fourth dose) 6 months after their third dose (this is because women with these specific conditions may not respond as strongly to their earlier doses of the vaccine). If you are in this group and are pregnant, it is particularly important to complete your vaccination course to protect you and your baby.

Can I be vaccinated during IVF treatment?

Yes, you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine during IVF treatment. The British Fertility Society (BFS) recommends considering the timing of your vaccine, taking into account that some people may experience minor side-effects in the few days after vaccination that you may not want to have during treatment. It may be sensible to separate your vaccination dates by a few days from some treatment procedures (for example, egg collection and embryo transfer in IVF), so any symptoms, such as fever, might be more easily identified as effects of the vaccine or the treatment procedure. Your medical team will be able to advise you about the best times for your situation. If you are vaccinated, you will help to protect yourself and your baby from the effects of COVID-19 infection in pregnancy.

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe if I am undergoing immune suppressing therapy during IVF?

A minority of women going through IVF receive immune suppressant therapy. None of the COVID-19 vaccines used in the UK are ‘live’ vaccines, and so cannot cause COVID-19 infection, even in women taking immune suppressing therapy. However, the vaccines may provide less protection as these immune suppressing treatments may reduce the level of anti-COVID antibodies produced by the body in response to the vaccine. It might be preferable, therefore, to delay being vaccinated until the effects of any immune therapy have worn off; or delay your IVF treatment until a few weeks after you’ve been vaccinated. You should discuss the pros and cons of these approaches with your fertility specialist.

Do COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility?

There is no evidence to suggest COVID-19 vaccines will affect fertility.

There is no biologically plausible mechanism by which current vaccines would cause any impact on women’s fertility. Animal studies of the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna Spikevax vaccines showed that administering these vaccines in rats had no effect on fertility. There has been no published evidence that reports fertility problems following vaccination against COVID-19.

Likewise, the theory that immunity to the spike protein could lead to fertility problems is not supported by evidence. Most people who contract COVID-19 will develop antibodies to the spike and there is no evidence of fertility problems in people who have already had COVID-19.

As more evidence becomes available on the safety of each COVID-19 vaccine (from longer periods of follow up), we will update our advice.

More information on COVID-19 vaccines, fertility and fertility treatment is available from the BFS and the Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists (ARCS).

What if I find out I am pregnant after I have received a COVID-19 vaccine?

If you were vaccinated before finding out you are pregnant, or inadvertently while you are pregnant, you should be reassured that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at any stage of pregnancy.

If you find out you are pregnant after you have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine (between doses), you are strongly advised to have your second dose 8 weeks after your first dose. There’s no evidence that you need to delay vaccination until after the first 12 weeks.

COVID-19 vaccines are strongly recommended in pregnancy. Vaccination is the best way to protect against the known risks of COVID-19 in pregnancy for both women and babies, including admission to intensive care and premature birth.

You should be given your second dose 8 weeks after the first dose, and a booster 6 months after this second dose. We strongly recommend you complete the course of vaccination before giving birth, or before you enter the third trimester, when the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 is greatest.

Your decision should take into account your personal exposures to and risks from COVID-19. You can discuss these risks with a doctor or your midwife, and you may want to use the RCOG and RCM decision tool to assist you in deciding what to do next.

What are the benefits of vaccination in pregnancy?

COVID-19 vaccines are strongly recommended in pregnancy. Vaccination is the best way to protect against the known risks of COVID-19 in pregnancy for both women and babies, including admission to intensive care and premature birth.

More than half of women who test positive for COVID-19 in pregnancy have no symptoms at all, but some pregnant women can get life-threatening illness from COVID-19, particularly if they have underlying health conditions. In the later stages of pregnancy, women are at increased risk of becoming seriously unwell with COVID-19.

COVID-19 infection can also adversely affect the pregnancy. In pregnant women with symptoms of COVID-19, it is twice as likely their baby will be born early, exposing the baby to the risks of prematurity. A study also found that pregnant women who tested positive for COVID-19 at the time of birth were more likely to develop pre-eclampsia or need an emergency caesarean. Their risk of stillbirth was twice as high, although the actual number of stillbirths remains low.

The benefits of vaccination include:

  • reduction in severe disease for the pregnant woman
  • reduction in the risk of stillbirth and prematurity for the baby
  • potentially reducing transmission to vulnerable household members.

Is there any evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause miscarriage or stillbirth?

The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) Yellow Card scheme collects and monitors information on safety concerns, such as suspected side-effects or adverse incidents involving medicines and medical devices, including vaccines. They been analysing reports of miscarriage and stillbirth in pregnant women who have received the COVID-19 vaccines and have not identified any pattern to suggest the COVID-19 vaccines used in the UK, or any reactions to these vaccines, increase the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth.

Sadly, miscarriage is estimated to occur in about 1 in 4–5 pregnancies in the UK and most occur in the first 12–13 weeks of pregnancy (the first trimester). Stillbirths are estimated to occur in about 1 in 200 pregnancies in the UK.

Research from six studies worldwide show the rates of miscarriage were the same in those who had received a COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy as in the general population.

What are the possible adverse effects from COVID vaccines?

In non-pregnant individuals, the COVID vaccines are known to have mild and short-lasting side-effects, such as a fever or muscle ache lasting a day or two. Reports of serious side-effects, such as allergic reaction or clotting problems, have been very rare.

Regarding serious blood clots, the JCVI has stated that “there are currently no known risk factors for this extremely rare condition, which appears to be an idiosyncratic reaction on first exposure to the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine”. This means that someone is not necessarily at higher risk of this serious side-effect just because they have a higher risk of other blood clots, for example because they are pregnant. Because this side-effect is so rare, we can’t know the exact risk in pregnancy.

This information on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine may be less relevant for pregnant women now that the JCVI recommends offering the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Spikevax vaccines in pregnancy, where available.

The government has also advised that individuals under the age of 40 should be offered an alternative vaccine to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, based on the risk/benefit ratio for this age group.

How is COVID-19 vaccination being monitored in pregnancy?

Up to 31 March 2021, in the UK, healthcare professionals who met a woman who had been vaccinated in pregnancy recorded this via their UK Obstetric Surveillance Service (UKOSS) for the joint UKOSS/UK Teratology Information Service (UKTIS) study. Pregnant women who had been vaccinated (up to and including 31 March 2022) could also report directly to UKTIS.

Pregnant women can register directly with the MHRA Yellow Card Vaccine Monitor.

Another reporting mechanism for healthcare professionals is the PHE Inadvertent Vaccination in Pregnancy (VIP) system.

As of April 2022, pregnancy status is recorded in the national vaccination programme to make sure pregnant women and their babies’ outcomes can be followed up.

Does it matter which vaccine I have?

The JCVI advises that it is preferable for all pregnant women in the UK to be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Spikevax mRNA vaccines, where available. This is because these vaccines have been given to over 300 000 pregnant women in the US and UK and the data have not raised any safety concerns.

Women who have already had one dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca (before they became pregnant or earlier on in pregnancy), are advised to complete vaccination with a second dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca – see below for more information.

I have already had one dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine before or earlier in my pregnancy. I am now pregnant and due my second dose. What should I do?

The UKHSA published an update to the Green Book on Immunisation on 14 December 2021 to confirm that pregnant women who had already received a dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine could have Oxford-AstraZeneca for their second dose or one of the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna Spikevax). Evidence suggests those who receive mixed schedules make a good immune response.

Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna Spikevax vaccines are the preferred vaccines for eligible pregnant women of any age, because of more extensive experience of their use in pregnancy. There have been no reported concerns with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in pregnancy, but there is less published data with this vaccine.

Completion of the primary course with a second dose of any available vaccine is strongly recommended to ensure maximum protection against COVID-19.

Should I leave an interval between having my COVID-19 vaccine or booster and other vaccines such as flu and whooping cough?

You can have a COVID-19 vaccine or booster at the same time as other vaccines such as the flu jab or the whooping cough vaccine. Sometimes it will not be possible to have the vaccines together for logistical reasons. If they aren’t given together then they can be administered at any interval, although separating the vaccines by a day or two will avoid confusion over any side-effects.

I had Oxford-AstraZeneca for my first two vaccines, should I have the same for my booster vaccine?

The JCVI is advising the Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna Spikevax mRNA vaccines are given for the booster doses, irrespective of the vaccine used for the initial two doses. This is based on initial findings from the COV-BOOST trial, which is ongoing. So if you’ve completed two courses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, you will be able to have a Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna Spikevax booster vaccine.

The advice still stands from the JCVI that pregnant women who received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for their first dose are advised to receive the same vaccine for their second dose. This is because the second dose is important for longer lasting protection against COVID-19, and there is less evidence around mixing types of vaccine for the first and second doses. If you are unsure about receiving a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, you should arrange to speak to an obstetrician, midwife or GP.

Are there any vaccine clinical trials or studies taking place in the UK?

Two trials of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant women in the UK have launched and another is planned.

  • A clinical trial by the vaccine manufacturer Pfizer launched across several National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) sites in the UK in May 2021. Women participating in this study will be randomly assigned to receive either the Pfizer vaccine or a placebo (this is a randomised controlled trial, or RCT). Those who receive the placebo will then be offered the Pfizer vaccine once they give birth, so that all the women participating will have received this vaccine either in pregnancy or shortly after giving birth. The role of this study (COVID-19 Vacc Maternal Immunisation) will be to provide more robust information on the vaccine immune response in pregnancy, as well as safety reporting and the potential transfer of maternal antibodies to infants.
  • A government-funded clinical trial investigating best COVID-19 vaccine dose interval for pregnant women was launched in England in August 2021. The study is being led by St George’s, University of London, and will gather more robust data on how best to protect pregnant women and their babies from COVID-19. The clinical trial will investigate the immune response to vaccination at different dose intervals, monitoring the protection provided by the vaccine for pregnant women and their babies.
  • There are plans for a pragmatic trial of different vaccines in pregnant women, and full details of that trial will be available shortly.

Can I have a COVID-19 vaccine if I am breastfeeding?

COVID-19 vaccines are strongly recommended to breastfeeding women. There is no plausible mechanism by which any vaccine ingredient could pass to your baby through breast milk. You should therefore not stop breastfeeding in order to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

What should I do if I develop a reaction to the vaccine?

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause adverse effects. These are usually mild and do not last long. Very common side-effects in the first day or two after your vaccine include: pain or tenderness in your arm where you had your injection, feeling tired and headaches, aches and chills.

You may also have flu-like symptoms and experience episodes of shivering or shaking for a day or two. If you develop a fever (your temperature is 38°C or above) you can rest and take paracetamol, which is safe in pregnancy.

You can report any suspected side-effects through the Yellow Card scheme, which allows the MHRA to monitor side-effects and ensure vaccines are safe.

If you are concerned about your symptoms, you can contact your GP or maternity team for further advice.

There have been reports of an extremely rare clotting problem associated with people receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. If you experience any of the following from around 4 days to 4 weeks after any vaccination you should seek medical advice urgently:

  • a new, severe headache which is not helped by usual painkillers or is getting worse
  • an unusual headache which seems worse when lying down or bending over or may be accompanied by:
    • blurred vision, nausea and vomiting
    • difficulty with your speech
  • weakness, drowsiness or seizures
  • new, unexplained pinprick bruising or bleeding
  • shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal pain.

Risks of Getting COVID Vaccine While Pregnant

If you’re pregnant, you may be wondering whether you should get one of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Is it safe for you and your unborn child for you to get one of the vaccines?

The answer is yes, according to the nation’s leading public health experts.

Ready to schedule your vaccine?

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The American College of Obstetrician Gynecologists (ACOG), the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine (SMFM), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly recommend vaccinating women who are breastfeeding, women who are pregnant and women who are trying to get pregnant.

“The recommendation that women who are breastfeeding, pregnant or planning pregnancy get vaccinated has only gotten stronger over time,” said Michael Leonardi, MD, a maternal and fetal medicine specialist for OSF HealthCare. “The COVID vaccines are some of the most thoroughly studied drugs we have ever given – in particular to pregnant women.

“The best way to take care of a baby in utero is to take care of the mother who is carrying the baby. The best way to take care of a newborn is to ensure the people caring for the newborn are vaccinated and COVID-free.”

Women who are vaccinated before or during pregnancy make antibodies against COVID-19, which cross the placenta into the baby, just like antibodies against anything the mother has ever been infected with or vaccinated against. These antibodies are detectable in the baby.

Breast milk, too, has been shown to have antibodies against COVID-19 in women who received the vaccination while pregnant or after delivery.

“Breast milk is an amazing gift that mothers give their children,” Dr. Leonardi said. “Being vaccinated enriches that gift by potentially providing some protection against COVID.”

Weigh the risks

“There is data showing that pregnant women who get COVID – regardless of severity – are at increased risk for pre-eclampsia and preterm birth, which can have lifelong consequences for the baby,” Dr. Leonardi said.

There is also very concerning data coming from areas with high rates of COVID-19 in pregnant women due to low vaccination rates and high community prevalence that shows at least a doubling of the risk for stillbirth in women infected with COVID-19 at any time during pregnancy.

According to the CDC, pregnant women are three times more likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit, 2.9 times more likely to require ventilation, 2.4 times more likely to need an oxygenation pump and 1.5 times more likely to die than women who aren’t pregnant.

Older pregnant women (ages 35-44) are at particularly high risk and were nearly four times more likely to require invasive ventilation. They are twice as likely to die, too. And women who are severely ill with COVID-19 in the third trimester can pass the infection to the fetus in utero or at delivery.

The increased risk for a severe outcome is likely related to changes within your body during pregnancy, including increased oxygen consumption and decreased lung capacities.

“The risk of getting infected and suffering serious harm is far greater in pregnant women than the risk posed by getting the vaccine,” Dr. Leonardi said.

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As with all medications in pregnancy, you should make your decision based on the best available information about the effectiveness of the medication, the potential risks of the medication and the risk of the disease if the medication is not received.

You should also consider your exposure risk, the prevalence of the virus in your community and any pregnancy-related health issues, like gestational diabetes, that may increase your risk for serious illness from COVID-19.

Vaccine risk believed to be low

There is no data to indicate the vaccines are dangerous to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

In addition, the New England Journal of Medicine published results of a study of 3,958 pregnant women where findings did not indicate any significant safety concerns for those who receive the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. Further, the study found that any adverse pregnancy and fetal outcomes in those vaccinated against COVID-19 who had a completed pregnancy were similar to incidences reported in studies involving pregnant women during pre-pandemic times.

And please remember, getting vaccinated does not reduce your need to continue following all public health safety guidelines. That means masking, washing your hands often and minding your distance when you’re in public.

Is It Safe To Have The Covid Vaccine While Pregnant

Study shows that vaccination doesn’t increase risk of preterm births.

pregnant woman receiving vaccination against COVID-19

Pregnant women are, first and foremost, concerned with the health of their unborn child, and some have had reservations about getting the COVID-19 vaccine—only about a third of pregnant women are fully vaccinated.

But a new study of more than 46,000 pregnant women shows that COVID-19 vaccination does not increase the risk of delivering a premature baby or of having a baby born smaller than expected—both of which are linked to higher chances of infant death and disability. 

The study, which adds to existing evidence that COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy is safe, was published on Jan. 4, 2022, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Heather Lipkind, MD, a Yale Medicine obstetrician-gynecologist and high-risk pregnancy specialist, was its lead author. 

One of the first studies to examine the health of babies born to women vaccinated during pregnancy, it comes at a crucial time, when the Omicron variant is surging. 

Vaccination is key, Dr. Lipkind says, because pregnant women with COVID-19 are at increased risk for severe illness and complications during pregnancy, including preterm birth

“Women have been reluctant to receive the vaccine due to limited information about vaccine safety,” Dr. Lipkind says. “However, now, given the increasing rates of Omicron, protection provided by the vaccine is more important than ever. Because Omicron is so contagious, the typical measures we were taking before aren’t necessarily working. And if you are pregnant, it may now be harder to keep yourself from getting sick with COVID.” 

Women with symptomatic COVID-19 during pregnancy are twice as likely to need admission to the hospital intensive care unit and invasive ventilation compared to nonpregnant women with symptomatic infections. And they are 70% more likely to die than nonpregnant women with COVID-19. 

Additionally, earlier studies have shown that women vaccinated during pregnancy do not face a higher risk of miscarriage compared to unvaccinated women. 

Details from the study on pregnant women and COVID vaccines

This latest study examined 46,079 pregnancies that resulted in a live birth. It included 10,064 pregnant women who received one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine between Dec. 15, 2020, and July 22, 2021. Most of the women received Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, and the majority were vaccinated during their second or third trimester. 

A total of 6.6% of babies from the study were born prematurely (before 37 weeks) and 8.2% were born small for their gestational age (referred to as SGA), weighing less than 5 pounds and 8 ounces. There was no difference in the rate of these occurrences between mothers who had been vaccinated while pregnant and those who were not, and the rates were consistent with what is expected in the population. 

Dr. Lipkind and her team plan to do follow-up research on infants born to women who have been vaccinated. 

Why vaccination in pregnancy is important

Given that women infected with the coronavirus appear to be at higher risk of preterm birth, vaccination is key to avoiding the various developmental issues that can accompany a baby born too soon.

“Delivering early is associated with an increased risk of developmental delay for the baby,” Dr. Lipkind says. “We also don’t know the long-term effects of COVID on babies if a mother passes the virus to her child.”

Meanwhile, one study on mRNA vaccines has shown that pregnant vaccinated women pass protective antibodies to their babies. 

While Omicron is still too new to be able to draw conclusions on its severity in pregnant women, Dr. Lipkind says CDC data—and her own anecdotal experience—demonstrates that with previous variants, pregnant, unvaccinated women were getting much sicker and showing an increased risk of death and ICU admission compared to vaccinated pregnant women. 

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