patient-education article 2021-12-18 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: Vaccinations are considered a safe and routine part of prenatal care. For example, the flu shot is not only offered during pregnancy but recommended.

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 two largest OB/GYN organizations, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal and Fetal Medicine (SMFM), now strongly recommend this vaccine for all pregnant people and all people planning pregnancy.

Q: Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe 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.

None of the COVID vaccines contain live virus and they cannot make anyone sick with COVID including pregnant people or their babies.

The monitoring of COVID-19 vaccine safety during pregnancy is ongoing however many studies of pregnant people have been published. More than 100,000 pregnant individuals have received the vaccines in the U.S. since December 2020 and so far, the CDC is reporting that there are no safety concerns including infertility, miscarriage, birth defects, or preterm birth.

Read more about vaccination considerations from the CDC >

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

A: Receiving the COVID vaccine prior to pregnancy or as soon as possible during pregnancy is strongly recommended given the risk of severe illness from COVID.

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, although the chance of blood clots occurring as a result of this vaccine is very low, the FDA and CDC have stated that the mRNA vaccines are the preferred vaccine.

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 currently being offered to breastfeeding individuals. The COVID-19 vaccines are not believed to be a risk for breastfed infants of mothers who were vaccinated as any vaccine component that makes it into the breast milk is likely to be quickly inactivated when the milk is digested by the baby.

In addition, recent studies demonstrate that 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 a COVID-19 vaccine.

Q: If I receive either the Pfizer/Comirnaty 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 may prevent COVID-19 during pregnancy. It can also avoid the need for vaccination during pregnancy.

Will the vaccine affect menstrual periods?

A: Stress, changes in weight and exercise, and other major lifestyle changes can affect periods. All of those changes are common during the COVID-19 pandemic. Studies have also shown that some women who had COVID-19 experienced changes in the duration and flow of their menstrual cycles.

Recently, some people have reported changes in their period after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. People have reported changes in duration, flow, and symptoms such as pain. The NIH is funding studies to better understand these changes.

This does not mean there is any link to miscarriages. There is now data from many women who have been vaccinated which suggests there is not an increased risk of pregnancy loss.

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

A: Studies of mating animals have demonstrated no evidence that COVID vaccines affect fertility. 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 (problems trying to get pregnant) in women or men.

If I have completed my primary vaccine series, do I need a booster prior to pregnancy, during pregnancy, or while breast feeding?

A: The CDC recommends that everyone ages 18 years and older receive a booster. The booster dose has been shown to provide stronger protection against severe illness from the COVID variants. This additional immunity will help protect you and your baby.

Still have questions? Please find additional references and resources:

Date originally published: 01/12/2021
Date updated: 12/18/2021

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.