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COVID-19 Vaccine: I'm pregnant. Should I receive the vaccine?

By Intermountain Healthcare

Aug 25, 2021

COVID 19 Vaccine and Pregnancy

Becoming pregnant against the backdrop of a pandemic can be stressful and with COVID-19 vaccines currently being distributed worldwide, many moms-to-be are struggling with the decision of whether or not to get vaccinated during their pregnancy. If you’re pregnant, the best thing is to get more information so you can evaluate the risks and benefits of getting or not getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

What are the medical experts recommending for pregnant women?

National organizations such as the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend that pregnant women receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine (SMFM) recommends that pregnant women have access to the COVID vaccines. Pregnant women are at higher risk for preterm birth, severe infection leading to admission to an Intensive Care Unit or death when they are infected with the COVID virus, and need to be protected.

Should I get the vaccine if I'm pregnant or trying to get pregnant?

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you should talk with your provider about the risks and benefits of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. If you get a vaccine during pregnancy, you may give your baby protective antibodies before birth, potentially protecting them from infection. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends that pregnant and lactating individuals be vaccinated against COVID-19. You can get the vaccine at any time during pregnancy.

Are there risks of getting a vaccine during pregnancy?

Studies done with thousands of pregnant women do not show any increased risk to the mother or baby. Specifically, there was no increase in:

  • Miscarriage
  • Stillbirth
  • Preterm birth
  • Preeclampsia
  • Birth defects

In addition, there was no increase in side effects from the vaccine in pregnant women.

Does the vaccine cause infertility?

No. Research does not show that women have problems getting pregnant because of the vaccine. The stories on social media about the similarity of the Sars-CoV-2 protein and a protein needed to get pregnant are false.

What if I'm breastfeeding?

Yes. The vaccine is recommended for women who are breastfeeding.

  • Research show that the vaccine does not affect the safety of your breastmilk.
  • Since the vaccine does not contain the COVID-19 virus, there is no risk of infecting your baby.
  • If you get the vaccine, you can pass the antibodies to your baby through breast milk. This may help protect your baby from COVID-19.

What type of vaccine is the COVID-19 vaccine? And how does it work?

There are two types of vaccine in the United States, mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) and an adenovirus vector vaccine (J&J) The mRNA vaccines contains pieces of messenger RNA, which is basically a recipe for making a protein. It’s a very effective way to do a vaccine. It should be safe in pregnancy. It won’t cross the placenta or change the DNA code. The J&J vaccine attaches a protein to an adenovirus (cold virus) that has been changed so it cannot cause an infection. These proteins help the body create protective antibodies against the COVID virus. These vaccines protect the mom, and potentially the baby as well.

Does it matter what trimester of your pregnancy you're in when you get the vaccine?

There’s no evidence that women in their first or second trimester are at higher risk if they get the vaccine. You can get the vaccine at the same time as other vaccines you are getting during your pregnancy.

It’s OK to get pregnant after getting the vaccine.

Will pregnant women who get the vaccine be studied?

Some women in the original vaccine studies became pregnant after they were vaccinated, and future studies of the COVID-19 vaccine will include pregnant women. National registries are keeping track of data on the many thousands of pregnant women who have received the vaccine while they were pregnant. Many of those pregnant women also signed up for the V-safe health checker app when they got their COVID vaccine which has provided real world safety data about pregnant women.

What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

If you get the vaccine, there may be side effects. That’s normal and expected and it’s a sign the vaccine is working. Side effects include a sore arm, body aches, fever, fatigue, headache. The mRNA vaccines currently available are 91 to 93 percent effective if you get both doses. They are not fully effective until 2 weeks after the last dose. Be sure to get the second dose of the mRNA vaccines. The J&J vaccine is 72% effective two weeks after receipt.

If a woman had a severe reaction to another vaccine, they should let their vaccine provider know so they can be observed for a longer period of time after they get the vaccine.

If you get the vaccine do you still need to wear a mask and practice social distancing and good hand hygiene?

Yes. Getting the vaccine means you have a lower chance of getting the virus, but you can still get the virus. Getting the vaccine also means if you get the virus, your case is likely to be milder than if you didn’t get the vaccine. Wearing masks and practicing social distancing and good hand hygiene will further reduce your risk of getting COVID-19 and other viruses such as the flu or colds as well.

Where can women go for more information?

Talk with your OB provider and visit websites for the CDC, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine, and the World Health Organization.