Please note: As we continue to learn more about COVID-19, the information in this article may change. You can find our most up-to-date information about coronavirus here.

Nothing matters more to expectant parents than the health of their baby. Yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), less than half of pregnant people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Because of this reluctance by pregnant people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, we’ve answered common questions and concerns about COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for pregnant women?

Yes. The CDC, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine all recommend pregnant people get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Because people who are pregnant or recently pregnant are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with people who are not pregnant, getting a COVID-19 vaccine can help protect from severe illness from COVID-19. Evidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy has been growing and suggests that the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy. Vaccination during pregnancy also builds antibodies that might protect the baby.

If I’m pregnant should I get a booster COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. While your original vaccine continues to protect you against severe illness and death, it will wear off a bit over time. A booster shot provides extra protection against COVID-19 for you and your baby. You should discuss with your doctor when you should get a booster shot if you have already received your primary vaccination.

What happens if I get pregnant after receiving my first COVID-19 vaccine?

If you get pregnant after receiving your first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine that requires two doses (i.e., Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine), you should get your second shot to get as much protection as possible.

I’ve heard the COVID-19 vaccine can cause miscarriage. Is this true?

No. The COVID-19 vaccine does not cause miscarriage. Scientists have not found an increased risk for miscarriage among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine just before and during early pregnancy.

I’ve heard the COVID-19 vaccine can cause infertility. Is this true?

No. There is no evidence that any vaccine, including the COVID-19 vaccines, causes infertility or miscarriage.

Is it safe for lactating people to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. Currently the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) are both recommending that breastfeeding people get the vaccine to protect themselves and their families. Studies have shown the vaccine is safe and effective for this group.

Does getting the COVID-19 vaccine protect my breastfed child?

Probably. While there is still limited research, it seems that getting vaccinated does produce antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 that can be in the breastmilk. This is good news because we know when a person secretes antibodies against other diseases in breastmilk, the breastfed baby is protected against those diseases by the antibodies (the official term for this is “passive immunity”). We are still doing the research to determine how much the antibodies against COVID-19 protect breastfed infants of vaccinated parents.

Can I give my child COVID-19 through the vaccine?

No. Here the research is clear — the COVID-19 vaccine will not give you (or your breastfed little one) COVID-19. The reason is that there are no actual COVID-19 virus particles in the vaccine. No virus means no infection.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Mulkey Sarah Mulkey, MD, is a prenatal-neonatal neurologist in the Division of Prenatal Pediatrics at Children’s National Hospital.

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