In December 2020, the FDA approved Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. At the time of this article, January 13, 2021, the COVID-19 vaccine is not yet currently available for patients. As the vaccine becomes available to people across the U.S., there are many questions about receiving the vaccine while pregnant or breastfeeding. The brief comments below reflect both available data and expert opinions as of January 13, 2021.
Q: I am pregnant. Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: Vaccination, especially with vaccines that do not contain live virus, are considered a safe and routine part of prenatal care. For example, the flu shot is not only offered during pregnancy but recommended.
In line with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), when the COVID-19 vaccine is available for patients, it will be offered to those who are pregnant. However, it is recommended that you speak with your OB provider about whether or not you should get vaccinated. Both the virus and the vaccine are new. There is very little data on the safety of this vaccine in pregnancy, as pregnant people were not included in the trials of the vaccines. However, 18 individuals who received the vaccine in the vaccine trials did become pregnant after vaccination. So far, those pregnancies are ongoing and we hope to learn more about those individuals soon.
Like many new medications and vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine was studied in pregnant animals and these studies did not show any complications related to the vaccine.
With the help of your OB provider, you can discuss what is the best option for you. This will be based on your risk for exposure to the virus and how sick you might get if you do get the virus.
Q: If I decide to get the vaccine during pregnancy, does it matter when I get vaccinated?
A: The decision about when you get vaccinated should be made together with your OB provider. This decision should take into account your risk of exposure to the virus and what your chance of getting very sick might be if you do get the virus. There is no data to suggest that the COVID-19 vaccines cause miscarriage.
Q: I heard that some people had reactions after vaccination. Are these dangerous in pregnancy?
A: Symptoms including fever, muscle aches, joint pains, fatigue and headache are common side effects of the vaccine (particularly after the second dose). Most mild side effects resolve within a day or two and are not believed to be dangerous. If you are worried about side effects from the vaccine and your pregnancy, talk to your OB provider before getting the vaccine.
Q: If I have received another vaccine during pregnancy do I have to wait to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: The flu shot and the Tdap vaccines are routinely recommended during pregnancy. If you choose to receive the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy or the postpartum period, the CDC recommends that you schedule it at least 14 days before or 14 days after any other vaccination. Talk with your OB provider about the best timing for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Q: I am breastfeeding. Should I get the vaccine?
A: When the vaccine is available for patients, it will be offered to breastfeeding individuals. At this time, there is no data regarding the health impact on breastfed infants of mothers who were vaccinated. However, any vaccine that makes it into the breast milk is likely to be quickly inactivated when the milk is digested. In addition, some of your COVID-19 immunity can pass to the baby through the breastmilk after you receive the vaccine.
Q: Will the vaccine affect my chance of getting pregnant in the future?
A: There is no evidence that these vaccines affect future fertility.
Q: What if I become pregnant between the first dose of the vaccine and the second dose?
A: You can choose to either get the second dose during pregnancy or wait to get the second dose until after you have had your baby. Many individuals who have already had the first dose may choose to get the second dose so they will become immune during pregnancy.
Q: I am planning pregnancy in the near future. Should I get vaccinated now or wait?
A: The COVID-19 vaccines are not believed to affect your future fertility. Getting vaccinated before you get pregnant may prevent COVID-19 during pregnancy. It can also avoid the need for vaccination during pregnancy. However, whether or not you wait to get vaccinated may depend on when the vaccine is available to you.
Still have questions? Please find additional references and resources:
- COVID-19 vaccine information and updates from Mass General
- "Wondering about COVID-19 vaccine if you're pregnant or breastfeeding?" by Ilona Goldfarb, MD, MPH on Harvard Health Blog
- The latest updates on COVID-19 from Mass General
- CDC Vaccination Considerations for People Who Are Pregnant or Breastfeeding
Date originally published: 01/12/2021
Date updated: 01/19/2021
OB/GYN at Mass General
The Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Mass General consistently ranks among the best women's health care providers in the country, offering innovative treatments from leading experts in obstetrics, gynecology, infertility, cancer and urogynecology. Learn more about our department.