Covid Vaccine When Pregnant: Safety And Guidelines

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IN THIS ARTICLE

COVID-19 vaccine in pregnancy is effective to protect the mother and the baby from the risk of infection, admission to intensive care, premature birth, and other illnesses. In addition, most pregnant women who have already received the COVID-19 vaccine have not shown any serious side effects.

COVID-19 in pregnancy is likely to increase preterm birth, and mothers with underlying medical conditions, and advanced age can have adverse outcomes. Getting COVID-19 vaccination and adhering to the COVID protocols, such as wearing face masks, maintaining social distancing, and practicing hand hygiene, can help protect expecting mothers from COVID-19 infection (1).

Read this post about the safety, effectiveness, and other recommendations and queries related to the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy.

Is It Safe To Get The COVID-19 Vaccine During Pregnancy?

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and various other organizations, the COVID-19 vaccine is safe during pregnancy. Although there are limited studies, the available evidence shows that the benefits of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in pregnancy outweigh the risks (2).

According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG), more than 148,000 pregnant women were vaccinated in the US. They were mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, and have not raised any safety concerns. In addition, there were no safety concerns among 82,000 pregnant women who received the COVID-19 vaccine in England and 19,000 from Scotland (3).

The CDC mentions the following factors to emphasize the COVID-19 vaccine safety in pregnant mothers (2):

  • No safety issues were seen in animal studies. Animals who received Moderna, Johnson & Johnson (J&J)/Janssen, or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine before or during pregnancy have not developed any safety concerns for themself or their babies.
  • No pregnancy-related adverse outcomes are found in clinical trials using the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.
  • No infections were seen in pregnant women and their babies.
  • Early data from the US on receiving mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech) during pregnancy have not shown any safety concern in vaccinated mothers and their babies.
  • According to the v-safe pregnancy registry analysis, any increased risk of miscarriage has not been observed in pregnant women who received the COVID-19 vaccine before 20 weeks of gestation.
  • A study from Israel comparing pregnant women who received mRNA vaccine with unvaccinated mothers shows that the vaccination lowers the risk and complications of COVID-19 infection.

More accurate data on COVID-19 vaccine safety and effectiveness in pregnant women could be available in the future as vaccine manufacturers and researchers will be reviewing more data. 

What Are The COVID-19 Vaccine Guidelines For Pregnant Women?

A pregnant mother who opts for vaccination can get the vaccine anytime during the pregnancy. Doctors may explain the importance of vaccination, including its risks and benefits, before vaccinating pregnant women (4).

The following recommendations are given for COVID-19 vaccination in pregnant women (5):

  • Initially, when the vaccines were approved for pregnant women, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended discussing with a healthcare provider to know the vaccine options.
  • Recently the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) recommended the COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) states that there are no risks that outweigh the vaccine’s benefits.
  • Pregnant mothers with a high risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (healthcare workers) and who have comorbidities (presence of one or more conditions contributing to death) should consult the doctors and get vaccinated.

You may receive vaccines as per recommendations to have maximum immunity. For most vaccines, a first dose is given, and then there is an interval for receiving the second dose. According to data from AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine trials, this interval allows the immune system to promote a stronger immune response. However, single-dose vaccines are also available in many countries that can also make required immune responses.

Does The COVID-19 Vaccine Affect The Immune Systems?

COVID-19 vaccines do not affect the immune system. The antigen in the vaccine triggers immune responses, and our immune system can produce antibodies to fight against the viruses. This process may cause symptoms, such as fever (6)

Post-vaccination symptoms are normal, and it is a sign that your body is protecting against the coronavirus infection. Immune cells can rapidly clear if they encounter the same viruses again before they can cause the disease in most people.

Can You Get COVID-19 From The Vaccine Itself?

No. There is no approved vaccine in the US containing a live virus that can cause COVID-19. The available coronavirus vaccines cannot make pregnant women or their babies sick from COVID-19 (7). However, some vaccinated persons might also develop COVID-19 if they contract the virus, but with less severity and better recovery than others.

Are There Any Side Effects Of COVID-19 Vaccines?

Common and mild to moderate side effects are seen in some people. These signs indicate that the vaccine is working. However, having no side effects does not mean that the vaccine is not effective since everyone’s body responds differently. Common side effects of COVID-19 vaccinations may include (6):

These common side effects might go away within a few days without treatment. Other less common side effects such as anaphylaxis may rarely occur. Usually, it is recommended to wait at the vaccination center for 15 to 20 minutes after vaccination to intervene if anaphylaxis occurs. Adverse pregnancy-related outcomes are not seen in this vaccination.

The COVID-19 vaccinations are safe and effective during pregnancy. All pregnant women can receive it during pregnancy unless they have any other contraindications for vaccination. Most countries have approved COVID-19 vaccinations for pregnant people, so you may check with your healthcare provider to know their availability in your area.

Key Pointers

  • Several reputed organizations have stated that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
  • Fever and chills are some common side effects observed, and they indicate that the vaccine is working properly.
  • According to the World Health Organization, the benefits of the vaccine outweigh any potential risks for pregnant women.

References:

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Dr. Annal Vaidya

(MS)
Dr. Annal Vaidya is a former assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the prestigious Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai. He currently works as a consultant in various hospitals in the city. Dr. Vaidya specializes in managing high-risk pregnancies, infertility, and complicated pregnancies. He has a special interest in Cosmetic Gynecology and Endoscopy.

Dr Bisny T. Joseph

Dr. Bisny T. Joseph is a Georgian Board-certified physician. She has completed her professional graduate degree as a medical doctor from Tbilisi State Medical University, Georgia. She has 3+ years of experience in various sectors of medical affairs as a physician, medical reviewer, medical writer, health coach, and Q&A expert. Her interest in digital medical education and patient education made... more