As more and more Americans get the COVID-19 vaccine, parents have been asking if they should get the COVID-19 vaccine while breastfeeding. We asked our specialists at Children’s National to answer some questions about COVID, the vaccine and breastfeeding.

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 (and everyone 12 and older!).

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

Probably. While there is still limited research, it seems that getting vaccinated does cause antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 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 protect breastfed infants of vaccinated parents. Children’s National is even working on a research study to answer that question right now!

Can I give my child COVID 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.

Is there a vaccine that is best for breastfeeding women?

No. Whichever vaccine you can get first is the best one! Given how safe and effective all the vaccines are, doctors don’t have a preference for which one you get. If you have any questions about your specific health conditions though, you can always talk to your doctor.

Any tips for the vaccine appointment?

Given that some people feel a little under the weather after the vaccine appointment, try to make a plan for who can help you watch your little one if you are not feeling your best. Consider pumping if possible so others can help you feed your baby in case you are not feeling well. Tylenol and Ibuprofen are both totally fine to take while breastfeeding if you get a fever or pain.

Hope this helps answer your questions, and stay well this summer!

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Hayley T. Sparks, MD, is a pediatric resident at Children's National Hospital.
Sahira Long Sahira Long, MD, FAAP, is a board-certified pediatrician and lactation consultant at Children’s National.

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