patient-education article 2021-09-28 obstetrics-gynecology covid-19-coronavirus;pregnancy-childbirth

In February 2021, the FDA approved Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine which followed the approval in December 2020 for the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. As more studies are conducted, researchers are gathering critical information that answers many questions about receiving the vaccine while pregnant or breastfeeding. 

Get the latest information on COVID-19 vaccine availability.

Q: I am pregnant. Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

A: Yes! Based on data that demonstrates that pregnant people are at increased risk of severe illness with COVID-19 and new data that shows that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective in pregnancy, the CDC as well as the two largest OB/GYN organizations—American College of  Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal and Fetal medicine (SMFM)—now recommend this vaccine for all pregnant people.

Vaccinations are a safe and routine part of prenatal care even before COVID-19. For example, the flu shot is recommended for all pregnant people during flu season.

Q: I know the COVID-19 vaccines are new. Is there safety data for pregnant people?

A: Like many new medications and vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccines were studied in pregnant animals and these studies did not show any complications related to fertility or reproduction from the vaccine exposure.  

More than 30,000 pregnant individuals have received the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines in the U.S. since December 2020 and so far, the CDC is reporting that vaccination is not associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, birth defects or any other pregnancy complications.

While the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is the newest to be approved by the FDA, this type of vaccine has been used against other viruses in studies around the world. Some of these studies included pregnant individuals. No pregnancy complications from these vaccine exposures have been reported.

Read more about vaccination considerations from the CDC >

Q: If I decide to get the vaccine during pregnancy, does it matter when I get vaccinated?

A: Given the risk of severe COVID-19 illness to pregnant people who become infected with COVID-19 and are unvaccinated, the best timing for the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy is as soon as possible.

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 all three COVID-19 vaccines. 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 vaccines and your pregnancy, talk to your OB provider before getting the vaccine.

Q: Are there concerns about serious side effects from the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine during pregnancy?

A: There have been very rare reports of a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis among patients that have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Though very rare, the risk of certain blood clots appears to be highest in women aged 18–49.  After a thorough investigation of these rare events, the FDA and CDC are confident that this vaccine is safe and effective in preventing COVID-19 for all people 18 years of age and over, including pregnant people.

At this time, the available data suggests that the chance of blood clots occurring as a result of this vaccine is very low, but the FDA and CDC will remain vigilant in continuing to investigate this risk.

Individuals who have been vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the last 21 days who experience severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath should seek immediate evaluation.

Learn more on the FDA website >.

Q: If I decide to get vaccinated during pregnancy, will this vaccine also protect my baby from COVID-19?

A: Yes. Recent studies on pregnant people who received the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy demonstrate that immunity is passed to the baby.  This immunity may offer protection against COVID-19 to your baby.   

Q: I am breastfeeding. Should I get vaccinated?

A: The COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for ALL people including pregnant and breastfeeding individuals. The COVID-19 vaccines are not believed to be a risk for breastfed infants of mothers who were vaccinated..

In addition, recent studies demonstrate that your COVID-19 immunity can pass to the baby through the breast milk after you receive the vaccine. 

Q: Will getting vaccinated affect my chance of getting pregnant in the future?

A: There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines affect future fertility. Right now, follow-up data from vaccinated individuals of reproductive age as well as studies on patients before and after vaccination do not show any evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines cause fertility problems in women or men.

In a joint statement, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) shared that "there is no evidence that the vaccines can lead to loss of fertility. While fertility was not specifically studied in the clinical trials of the vaccines, no loss of fertility has been reported among trial participants or among the millions who have received the vaccines since their authorization, and no signs of infertility appeared in animal studies. Loss of fertility is scientifically unlikely.

Read the full statement >

Q: If I receive either the Pfizer/BioNTech or the Moderna vaccine, what if I become pregnant between the first and second doses?

A: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has convened an expert panel which recommends completing the vaccine course once it is initiated to receive the most effective and timely immunity.

Q: I am planning pregnancy in the near future. Should I get vaccinated now or wait?

A:  Yes!  This is a great time to get vaccinated.  The COVID-19 vaccines are not believed to affect your future fertility. Getting vaccinated before you get pregnant will prevent serious COVID-19 illness during pregnancy.

Still have questions? Please find additional references and resources:

Date originally published: 01/12/2021
Date updated: 09/28/2021

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.