Numerous studies including thousands of pregnant and breastfeeding individuals have shown that COVID-19 vaccinations are safe and effective. More than 100,000 pregnant individuals in the US have already received one of the COVID-19 vaccines.
We have included a Google Doc table that summarizes the findings on the safety of COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy from more than 25 studies in different countries that include more than 315,000 pregnant women. Overall, there was no harmful effect of COVID-19 vaccination on pregnancy outcomes found in any of these studies. Some studies found that women vaccinated for COVID-19 had a lower risk of preterm birth, stillbirth, a small baby, or having a newborn that required admission to a neonatal intensive care unit. This means that these studies found that COVID-19 vaccination supported healthier pregnancy outcomes. If you read this document, it uses abbreviations to describe the many pregnancy outcomes that were studied. Here is what some of these abbreviations mean. "PTB" means a preterm birth that occurs at least 3 weeks earlier than the expected due date. "NICU" stands for a neonatal intensive care unit. "SGA" means having a smaller baby than would be expected based on the time (gestational age) in pregnancy when the baby was delivered.
Thank you to Viki Male, a Lecturer in Reproductive Immunology at the Imperial College London for updating this document.
Yes. Getting vaccinated for whooping cough and flu when you’re pregnant has been recommended for decades and is a normal part of maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Vaccination against COVID-19 is now highly recommended as well.
CDC: Vaccines During and After Pregnancy
• The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Podcast: Pregnant? Top 3 Reasons Why You Need a COVID-19 Vaccine
Great question! Thousands of Americans have been unfortunately surprised when they acquired COVID-19 despite being very careful. It’s tough to control for every possible exposure especially when masking isn’t universal in all communities. The Delta variant of COVID-19 is highly infectious and two times as contagious as the original COVID-19 strain. It is as infectious as chicken pox. Given the risks in pregnancy of COVID-19 and the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines, it is highly recommended to become vaccinated in pregnancy or while breastfeeding. This is the best way to protect you and your family.
No. Commonly reported side effects across the different types of vaccines include fevers, fatigue, headaches, and body aches which is the same side effect profile for non-pregnant persons. Interestingly, a study of nearly 8,000 pregnant women found that there were fewer reports of side effects, like fever and muscle pain, compared to non-pregnant women.
Source: JAMA Network Open: Short-term Reactions Among Pregnant and Lactating Individuals in the First Wave of the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout
No. About 3-5% of babies in the United States are born with a birth defect each year. Among 1,612 women receiving the COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant, 45 had birth defects for a rate of 2.7%. This is what we would normally expect and does not indicate any relationship to the COVID-19 vaccine.
• March of Dimes: Birth Defects And Your Baby
• CDC Awardee COVID-19 Vaccination Planning Meeting
No. Normal estimates of miscarriage in pregnancy range from 11% to 22%. In a study following 2,456 pregnant people who received the COVID-19 vaccine, a miscarriage occurred in 12.8%. This is what we would normally expect.
• American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology: In Vitro Fertilization and Early Pregnancy Outcomes After COVID-19 Vaccination
• The New England Journal of Medicine: Covid-19 Vaccination during Pregnancy and First-Trimester Miscarriage
• JAMA Pediatrics: Spontaneous Abortion Following COVID-19 Vaccination During Pregnancy
None of the COVID-19 vaccines change your DNA. They never go into the cell nucleus, which is the control center of the cell where your DNA lives.
None of the COVID-19 vaccines contain a microchip or can make your arm magnetic. These are myths.
Yes. The immune system is very skilled at making protective antibodies to different vaccines or infections at the same time. Common prenatal vaccines like the influenza and the TdAP (tetanus/pertussis) are recommended in all pregnancies and can safely be paired with the COVID-19 vaccines.
Breast milk is so much more than nutrition and has long been known to protect infants against numerous infections by passing protective antibodies from the mother to the infant. Many studies have shown that breast milk from individuals vaccinated against flu while pregnant contains protective antibodies that can be passed to the infant. Recent studies have shown that protective antibodies against COVID-19 transfer in breast milk following COVID-19 vaccination.
• PLoS ONE: IgA and Neutralizing Antibodies to Influenza A Virus in Human Milk: A Randomized Trial of Antenatal Influenza Immunization
• Science Translational Management: COVID-19 mRNA vaccines drive differential antibody Fc-functional profiles in pregnant, lactating, and nonpregnant women
• Vaccines: COVID-19 Vaccine mRNABNT162b2 Elicits Human Antibody Response in Milk of Breastfeeding Women
• JAMA Pediatrics: Association of Human Milk Antibody Induction, Persistence, and Neutralizing Capacity With SARS-CoV-2 Infection vs mRNA Vaccination
The COVID-19 vaccine was developed quickly, but the clinical trials to examine the safety and efficacy were not rushed. Vaccine development and testing often takes years because there is a lot of bureaucratic and administrative hurdles that often take a long time. Due to the pressing public need, these administrative blocks were minimized without compromising the many months needed to conduct thorough testing. And while companies do make money off of vaccines, they are often the least profitable product in comparison to other drugs like Viagra.
We understand that it can be difficult to trust pharmaceutical companies, especially considering their role in the current opioid crisis. However, the vaccine still has no individual cost to you and is an important measure in protecting the health of you and your child, just like taking prenatal supplements and wellness checks.
There has been so much conflicting information online, especially in the media. We recommend following traditional misinformation debunking techniques:
1. First, identify the source of the information you are seeing. Is it a reputable source? Is the source from a well-established, scientifically credible organization such as the CDC, American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology or the, Society for Maternal and Fetal Medicine etc. If the source is an individual, what are their credentials? If it's difficult to assess, always feel free to ask your OB provider. They are on your care team and happy to help you find accurate and trusted information about the COVID-19 vaccine.
2. Find coverage on the topic from multiple sources. What do multiple experts, outlets, and organizations say about the topic?
On this page, we have referenced all of our answers with scientific studies and recommendations from highly credible medical societies. Thousands of pregnant and breastfeeding individuals have contributed to these studies.
• The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Podcast: Episode 1: “COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Safety”
• The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Podcast: Episode 2: “Maternal Health Disparities and COVID-19”
• The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Podcast: Episode 4: “Dismantling Myths about COVID-19 Maternal Health”
• The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Podcast: Episode 5: “The Mental Health Toll of COVID-19 and Looking to the Future”
Racism in medicine is a grave injustice and failure to support the health of the communities we are meant to serve. We recognize your very valid concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine given your lived experiences with racism with the medical establishment and healthcare providers. We are worried about the disproportionately high rates of COVID-19, associated suffering and death amongst communities of color. We hope that by increasing vaccination rates, especially amongst pregnant individuals, this will protect the health of you and your babies. We hope that you will connect with trusted family members, community leaders and healthcare providers to learn more about their experiences with the COVID-19 vaccine. We highly recommend getting vaccinated against COVID-19 in pregnancy to protect the health of yourself and your baby.