There are now three COVID-19 vaccines approved in the United States. The COVID-19 vaccine is an important tool to help end the COVID-19 pandemic and keep everyone safe and healthy. According to President Biden, all adults in the U.S. will be able to get the vaccine by summer of 2021.
We know pregnant moms might have many questions about getting the vaccine while pregnant. This information can help you understand what we know about the COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy.
What is a vaccination?
A vaccination is a shot that contains a vaccine. A vaccine helps protect you from certain diseases. When you get a vaccine, you develop antibodies to protect you from a certain disease. Antibodies are cells in the body that fight off infection. (March of Dimes)
Why are vaccines so important?
Vaccines can protect you by making you immune to certain diseases. Immunity helps to stop you from getting a particular disease.
Because of vaccines, people no longer get a deadly disease called smallpox. Vaccines have helped to bring other diseases to an all-time low. These include wild polio virus, measles, diphtheria and whooping cough.
Vaccines can also help protect you from common illnesses or make your symptoms less serious. For example, getting a flu vaccine can help reduce your risk of getting the flu, having serious flu complications and needing treatment in a hospital. (March of Dimes)
Are vaccines safe during pregnancy?
Vaccine recommendations for pregnant people are developed with very high safety standards to protect you and your baby. Certain vaccines are safe and recommended before and during pregnancy. These vaccines can keep you and your baby healthy. Some vaccines are not recommended during pregnancy.
The antibodies you develop after getting a vaccine cross the placenta and help protect your baby from serious diseases early in life. The placenta grows in your uterus (womb) and supplies your baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord. Vaccines also help protect you from diseases you can get and give to your newborn. (March of Dimes)
Why is the COVID-19 vaccine important?
The COVID-19 vaccine is an important tool to help stop the pandemic. This vaccine works with your immune system so your body is ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. The COVID-19 vaccine:
- Can help keep you from getting COVID-19
- May help prevent serious illness if you do get COVID-19
- May help protect people around you from getting exposed to COVID-19 from you
Getting the vaccine and following safety precautions – like wearing a mask and social distancing – are the best protection against the virus. (March of Dimes)
Dr. Monica Lee-Griffith, an obstetrician with Henry Ford Health System, answered questions about COVID-19 vaccine safety and pregnancy.
Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant?
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes the FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines are likely safe for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, but not enough data exists yet, as pregnant women were not included in the vaccine trials,” says Dr. Lee-Griffith.
However, some pregnant women joined the study who didn’t know they were pregnant at the time, and some women got pregnant soon after joining the study. These women are being tracked throughout their pregnancies, and there have been no reported problems yet.
The benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine likely outweigh the unknown risks. If you are unsure of whether to get vaccinated, it’s best to have conversations with your doctor or midwife. (Henry Ford LiveWell)
Can the COVID-19 vaccine give you or your baby COVID-19?
No. “The FDA-approved vaccines do not contain a live virus, so they cannot give you COVID-19, nor can they give your baby COVID-19,” says Dr. Lee-Griffith. The vaccines work by making our bodies produce one single protein that causes our bodies to produce an immune response that prevents infection. (Henry Ford LiveWell)
Is it safer to get the vaccine during a certain trimester?
No. “If a pregnant patient wants to consider getting vaccinated, they can do so at any time during their pregnancy,” says Dr. Lee-Griffith. It’s also very unlikely that the vaccine even reaches the fetus—there’s only a small chance that the vaccine crosses into the placenta, she says, and if so, it is minimal. (Henry Ford LiveWell)
Can you get the COVID-19 vaccine while breastfeeding?
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices says breastfeeding women may receive the vaccine. While breastfeeding people were not included in clinical trials, based upon what we know about other vaccines, there are no real concerns for breastfeeding patients, says Dr. Lee-Griffith.
It’s not known if the vaccine is passed through breast milk, but even if it is, there is no known harm to feeding an infant. (Live viral vaccines—measles, mumps and rubella vaccines—are routinely given to breastfeeding women, and the COVID-19 vaccine does not even contain a live virus.) (Henry Ford LiveWell)
Can the vaccine lead to infertility?
No. “There is no reason as to how it would affect fertility,” says Dr. Lee-Griffith. “It’s almost like saying the flu vaccine could affect fertility—I’m not aware of any vaccine that contributes to infertility.”
Are there any vaccine side effects that pregnant women can experience?
The COVID-19 vaccines can cause side effects in anyone who gets vaccinated, such as injection site pain in the arm, fever, muscle pain, chills and headache. If you’re pregnant and experience a fever, your doctor may advise you to take acetaminophen (such as Tylenol). Symptoms should go away after a day or two. (Henry Ford LiveWell)