COVID-19 Vaccination in Pregnancy

COVID-19 Vaccination in Pregnancy

If you’re expecting, what can you expect from the COVID-19 vaccine?

Pregnant women have had to face a lot of uncertainty throughout the pandemic, and with vaccination now in full swing, moms-to-be have to consider yet another question: whether to receive the shot. To help weigh this important decision, Rachael Fizer, DO, Ob/Gyn Associates of Holland PC, offers answers to common questions:

Is the COVID-19 vaccine currently available to pregnant women?

Yes. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) stress that COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should not be withheld from pregnant women who choose to receive a vaccine.

“There are no studies to date that have specifically evaluated the COVID-19 vaccine in pregnant women,” Dr. Fizer said. “However, based on available data and what we know about how these vaccines work in the body, it is considered safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding to get vaccinated.”

“Ultimately, it’s a personal choice,” she added. “My advice is that if a pregnant woman has the opportunity to get the vaccine and she wants it, she should.”

What are the benefits for pregnant women?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) includes pregnant women as a high-risk group for severe COVID-19. “Getting vaccinated can help you avoid potentially serious complications from the virus,” Dr. Fizer said. Complications can include increased risk of hospitalization and intensive care unit admission, as well as a higher risk of preterm delivery.

The benefits of getting vaccinated can also outweigh the risks of contracting COVID-19 when a pregnant woman has other health issues like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. New research findings have additionally revealed that expecting women who are vaccinated may be able to pass on immunity through the placenta and breast milk. So that means added protection for babies, too.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for women who are breastfeeding?

Clinical trials for the current COVID-19 vaccines did not include breastfeeding women. However, based on available data, it appears it’s safe to get the vaccine if you’re nursing. The vaccines do not contain live virus, and therefore, do not pose a risk to breastfed infants. Women who are vaccinated do not need to delay or discontinue breastfeeding.

Can COVID-19 vaccination affect fertility?

Unfortunately, an online disinformation campaign has claimed that COVID-19 vaccines can prevent or harm early pregnancy. Bottom line: if you’re trying to get pregnant, you can get vaccinated without worry. “There’s currently no evidence showing that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, disrupt or affect fertility,” Dr. Fizer said.

What can a pregnant woman do if she experiences side effects?

Side effects sometimes happen after COVID-19 vaccination, especially after the second dose for those that require two doses. Minor and temporary, side effects may include pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea. If you have a fever following vaccination, taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) is recommended. Remember to also drink plenty of fluids and rest up.

You can learn more about what to expect from COVID-19 vaccines on the CDC website. If you have further questions about vaccination during pregnancy, visit MotherToBaby, or talk to your obstetrician or health care provider. Don’t have a provider? We can help you find one at hollandhospital.org/findadoctor.

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