With the COVID-19 vaccines up and running and being distributed throughout the country, questions have arisen about the safety of the vaccine for pregnant people. Currently, the CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommend that pregnant people who are offered a vaccine as a member of healthcare personnel or frontline essential workers can receive the vaccine.
What do we know about how illness from COVID-19 affects pregnancy?
Pregnant people are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 when compared to non-pregnant people. Pregnant people that have COVID-19 are also at an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth.
Therefore, it is important for anyone who is pregnant to follow the safety guidelines established by the CDC; wear your mask, avoid interacting with anyone who has COVID-19, and wash your hands frequently.
Is there data about the safety of these vaccines for people who are pregnant?
While there is limited data currently available on the safety of the mRNA vaccines in pregnant people, there are studies planned to begin soon to. However, there were some people in the original clinical trials who did become pregnant, and vaccine manufacturers are monitoring these people.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Fauci, released a statement in February of 2021 about the safety of the COVID vaccine in pregnant people. He stated that about 10,000 pregnant women in the United States have already been vaccinated. The FDA are following their progress and the current data so far has no red flags or serious side effects for these women.
Viral vector vaccines, such as the recent Johnson and Johnson vaccine, have been studied in pregnant women for other viruses and met safety standards.
Is there any reason to believe that the vaccine is NOT safe for pregnant people?
mRNA vaccines – such as the Pzifer and Moderna vaccines – do not contain the live virus, so cannot give someone COVID-19. Based on how mRNA vaccines work, experts believe that the vaccines are unlikely to pose a specific risk for people who are pregnant.
What if I am pregnant, in a group being offered the vaccine currently, and still concerned about getting the COVID-19 vaccine?
That’s okay, it is normal to have questions. The current recommendation for pregnant people is to have a conversation with your healthcare provider to determine if the vaccine is the best choice for you.