COVID-19 Vaccine and Pregnancy
Dec 22, 2020 Cedars-Sinai Staff
If you or your partner is pregnant, you might have questions about COVID-19 vaccination.
Recently, the FDA issued emergency use authorization (EUA) for both the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
Currently, there are no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
According to the CDC, health experts believe mRNA vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk for people who are pregnant.
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have released statements to help pregnant women make decisions regarding COVID-19 vaccination.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for pregnant women?
According to the CDC, health experts believe mRNA vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk for people who are pregnant. This recommendation is based on how mRNA vaccines work:
- mRNA vaccines are not live vaccines and are degraded quickly
- The theoretical risk of fetal harm from mRNA vaccines is very low
- mRNA vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant
Can a pregnant woman contract the virus if she takes the COVID-19 vaccine?
It's important to know that mRNA vaccines do NOT contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. Pregnant women cannot contract COVID-19 by taking the vaccine.
Are pregnant women at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19?
Yes. Based on observational data, the CDC states that pregnant women do have an increased risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19.
Severe illness from COVID-19 could result in ICU admission, mechanical ventilation and, in rare instances, death.
While the chances of these severe health effects are infrequent, it's important for pregnant women to understand that, generally, your health and your baby's health are more at risk if you contract the virus that causes COVID-19.
Additionally, pregnant women may be at increased risk for other adverse pregnancy-related outcomes, such as preterm birth.
Should pregnant women get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Health experts recommend that pregnant women consider the following when making the decision to receive the COVID-19 vaccine:
- The level of COVID-19 transmission in their community
- Their personal level of risk of exposure to or contracting the virus that causes COVID-19 (occupation, other activities)
- The efficacy of the vaccine (the Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective, whereas the Modern vaccine is 94% effective)
- Known side effects of the vaccine (e.g., fever, chills, headache, fatigue)
- Lack of data about the vaccine during pregnancy
I'm pregnant and a healthcare worker. Should I get the vaccine?
If you are pregnant and part of a group recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine (such as healthcare workers), you may choose to be vaccinated.
Pregnant women are not required to discuss this with a clinician prior to vaccination. However, it may be beneficial to have a conversation with your doctor about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
What if I am breastfeeding or lactating? Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
The mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) are not thought to be a risk to breastfeeding infants.
If you are lactating and part of a group recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine (e.g. healthcare workers), you may choose to be vaccinated.
After vaccination, remember to follow current guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Wear a mask
- Stay 6 feet away from others and avoid crowds
- Wash your hands
- Follow local, state and CDC travel guidance
- Quarantine after exposure to COVID-19
- Follow COVID-19 guidelines at your workplace