patient-education article 2021-04-14 obstetrics-gynecology covid-19-coronavirus;pregnancy-childbirth

NOTE: Effective April 13th, Mass General Brigham has paused administration of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration jointly recommended that administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine be paused out of an abundance of caution, while both entities review data, involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare, severe type of blood clot out of the nearly 7 million people who received the vaccine. For the most up-to-date information on the COVID-19 vaccine please visit: massgeneralbrigham.org/vaccine


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 the vaccine becomes available to people across the U.S., there are 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: Vaccinations 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 a 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 vaccines are new. As pregnant people were not included in the trials of the COVID-19 vaccines, safety data is limited. 

With the help of your OB provider, you can discuss what is the best option for you. Your decision to be vaccinated during pregnancy should be based on your risk for exposure to the virus, how sick you might get if you do get the virus, and the latest available data about the vaccines.

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 there are no safety concerns.

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 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: 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 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 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 breast milk after you receive the vaccine. The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine recommends that all breastfeeding individuals get the COVID-19 vaccine once it is available.

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

A: There is no evidence that these vaccines affect future fertility.

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 vaccine can lead to loss of fertility. While fertility was not specifically studied in the clinical trials of the vaccine, 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: 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. 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: 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.

Q: If I decide to get the vaccine during pregnancy, how will I know when I can schedule my shots?

A: We know that many of you are eager to get the COVID-19 vaccine once you are eligible. As of February 19, 2021, Massachusetts has progressed to the next phase of the COVID-19 vaccination plan which includes vaccinating individuals with two medical conditions considered risk factors for COVID-19 illness. Pregnancy is one such condition. Pregnant people with one additional risk factor are now eligible to receive the vaccine. Examples of an additional risk factor include: Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, moderate to severe asthma, cigarette smoking, sickle cell disease, kidney disease or immunocompromise. More details about the specific medical conditions considered risk factors for COVID-19 are outlined on the state's website.

If you are eligible to receive the vaccine according to state guidance, vaccination is available through city and town clinics, local pharmacies, state vaccination sites and on a limited basis, via Mass General Brigham sites. To find an appointment, please visit Mass.gov or directly at VaxFinder.mass.gov for more information or call 2-1-1. For information about receiving the vaccine through Mass General Brigham, please visit this website and ensure you have a Patient Gateway account.

As we continue to wait for new vaccines to be delivered and eligibility to expand, we ask that you remain diligent. It is important to continue to wash your hands, wear a mask, and socially distance, whether you or someone you know has been vaccinated.

Still have questions? Please find additional references and resources:


Date originally published: 01/12/2021
Date updated: 4/14/2021

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.