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COVID-19 Vaccines During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding: Parent FAQs

By: Lisa M. Costello, MD, MPH, FAAP

A question I commonly get from patients and friends is this: Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for people who are or want to become pregnant?

I personally faced that same question, and the answer is yes.

My husband and I were vaccinated a few months before I got pregnant. And I got boosted during my pregnancy.

I am one of the hundreds of thousands of pregnant people living in the U.S. who have been vaccinated with no safety problems, and I had a beautiful baby girl in February.

It's natural to pause to think about a decision that affects not only yourself but also another person. I decided to get my COVID booster when I became eligible during my second trimester because I trust the process. I trust the vaccine safety trials and all of the experts on the independent advisory committees who judged that the COVID vaccine is safe.

If you are waiting to get yourself or your family vaccinated because you have questions or concerns, I suggest you talk with your pediatrician or obstetrician. You'll feel better knowing that you are making an informed decision.

Meanwhile, here are some answers to questions I'm frequently asked.

Should I get the vaccine if I'm planning to be or already am pregnant?

Yes! The vaccine is safe, effective and helps protect you from serious illness or hospitalization from COVID.

The benefits of the vaccine during pregnancy outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination. When you choose to get vaccinated, you are protecting yourself and your child.

What if I am on the fence and am thinking about waiting?

Waiting to be vaccinated is risky. If you get COVID-19 while you are pregnant, you can become seriously ill. A COVID-19 infection also brings a higher risk for miscarriage, pre-term birth, stillbirth and even death. More than 29,000 pregnant people have been hospitalized with COVID-19 and hundreds have died, according to the CDC.

Some new parents become so sick from COVID that they are unable to be with or care for their newborn. I have seen this happen with some of the families I care for and it is devastating. I encourage anyone who is on the fence to talk to their pediatrician or other medical experts.

Have vaccines been studied enough in pregnant women?

COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy has been studied throughout the pandemic. Doctors and scientists have been constantly monitoring the COVID-19 vaccines given to pregnant people, and more information confirming the vaccines' safety arrives all the time.

How do we know the COVID vaccines are safe?

The U.S. government has five safety monitoring systems in place to gather information about pregnant people who are vaccinated. In one of the programs, the V-safe COVID-19 Vaccine Pregnancy Registry, pregnant people use their smartphones to report on their health after being vaccinated. Through this registry, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has monitored the safety of COVID-19 vaccines on tens of thousands of pregnant people.

In another, The Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD), the CDC and nine health care organizations across the U.S. monitor and evaluate the safety of vaccines among pregnant people who choose to get vaccinated.

What about vaccines and fertility?

COVID vaccines are safe for people who want to become pregnant now or in the future. Thousands of people who have received the COVID vaccines have gone on to get pregnant later.

A study of more than 2,000 females aged 21-45 years and their partners found that vaccination of either partner did not affect the likelihood of becoming pregnant. And studies in vaccinated men show that sperm does not change after vaccination.

If I get a COVID vaccine during pregnancy, is that safe for my baby too?

Yes. Vaccination during pregnancy allows your body to create antibodies that can be passed along to protect your baby. Recent CDC data show that vaccination during pregnancy might help prevent COVID-19 hospitalization in infants less than 6 months old. There is no evidence that the COVID vaccine causes miscarriage or stillbirth (on the flip side, COVID disease can cause those things).

Can I breastfeed after getting a COVID vaccine?

Yes. You can safely breastfeed after being vaccinated. We are learning that protective antibodies can pass to the baby through the breastmilk of a vaccinated person. I'm comforted knowing that I'm passing along some immunity to my daughter through breastfeeding. This is one way I can protect her until she becomes eligible for the COVID vaccine.

I'm convinced! Can I or a family member get vaccinated at our pediatrician's office?

Many pediatrician offices carry the COVID-19 vaccine, and some can vaccinate your whole family. Contact your pediatrician to see if they offer the COVID-19 vaccine. If they don't, visit vaccines.gov to find a vaccination location near you. And if you have other questions about receiving the COVID vaccine while pregnant, talk to your obstetrician or pediatrician.

Remember

Having a conversation with a healthcare professional you trust can help you make the best choice.

More information

About Dr. Costello

Lisa M. Costello, MD, MPH, FAAP, pictured above with her new baby, is a lifelong West Virginian. Dr. Costello is an Assistant Professor in the Department Pediatrics at West Virginia University (WVU) and a Pediatric Hospitalist at WVU Medicine Children's Hospital. She currently serves as the President-Elect of the West Virginia State Medical Association, immediate past president of the West Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and on the Board of Directors for the WV Children's Health Insurance Program. She is also an advisor to the WV Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Public Health during the COVID-19 pandemic response, and the medical lead for the Joint Information Center within the West Virginia Joint Interagency Task Force For COVID-19.

This resource is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $500,000 with 100 percent funding by the CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by the CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government.

Last Updated
6/30/2022
Source
American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2022)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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