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

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. 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.

National organizations such as the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine (SMFM) recommend that each person consider their own potential risk factors and discuss them with their OB provider. They agree that in most cases there’s no reason for pregnant women to not receive the vaccine. 

Why might pregnant women be nervous about the vaccine?

It’s a new vaccine. Only about 30 pregnant women were included in the trials, either because they didn’t know they were pregnant or they became pregnant after getting the first dose of the vaccine. Typically, pregnant women aren’t included in trials because it adds another variable and that can make it more difficult to separate out the results. 

The pregnant women in the trials didn’t have any unexpected side effects or problems and the vaccine seemed to work as effectively as in non-pregnant women.

What information can help pregnant women decide if they should get the COVID-19 vaccine?

  • Evaluate your own risk of contracting COVID-19. Talk with your OB provider to help you further evaluate your risk. 
  • Women are at higher risk if they have lots of contact with people outside the home, are a teacher or healthcare worker, or are pregnant, are over age 35, are overweight, or have other medical conditions, or smoke or belong to minority groups. 
  • Look at the rate of COVID-19 in your local community. Positivity rates in Utah are still fairly high right now. 

If a woman has had a severe reaction to another vaccine, they should let their OB provider know.

What are the medical experts recommending for pregnant women?

There are different recommendations from different organizations.

National organizations such as the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) ,  the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine (SMFM), and the World Health Organization recommend each person consider their own potential risk factors and discuss them with their OB provider. They agree in most cases there is no reason for pregnant women to not receive the vaccine. 

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

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

This is an mRNA vaccine. Some other types of vaccines are made with a virus that has been killed. The COVID-19 vaccine contains pieces of mRNA, 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. It should protect both mom and baby.

Will pregnant women who get the vaccine be studied?

Future studies of the COVID-19 vaccine will include pregnant women. National registries are keeping track of data on pregnant women. We recommend pregnant women now be included in these trials and they continue to collect data. 

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 vaccines currently available are 95 percent effective if you get both doses. The efficacy is much more pronounced after the second dose. Be sure to get the second dose.

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.