November 8, 2021
By Anna Owen, MS4, Drexel University College of Medicine
According to the CDC, pregnancy is known to increase the risk for COVID-19 patients of severe illness, ICU admission, mechanical ventilation, adverse events (preterm birth) and death1. This is in addition to the increased risk of complications with experienced by COVID-19 patients with underlying health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, advanced age and cardiovascular disease.
While pregnant and lactating people were not included in vaccine trials, these populations should not be excluded from vaccination if they choose to pursue immunization. The vaccines are safe, and no steps were skipped in their development and evaluation. There has been no documented evidence of harm to maternal or fetal health that would necessitate preventing pregnant and breastfeeding patients from being vaccinated. The body of data about safety of vaccination is ever-growing as vaccines are consistently administered to patients across the country. None of the vaccines available have caused infertility. Common and benign side effects include injection site reaction, systemic reactions due to immune system activation such as fever, muscle pain, joint pain, headaches and fatigue. Pregnant people may take Tylenol for the fever. Other adverse events are exceedingly rare. There is growing data that antibodies against COVID-19 from vaccination are passed from the pregnant person to the fetus.
Like any medical decision, receiving a vaccination, while pregnant and breastfeeding is personal and should be discussed with your health care provider. Make sure to obtain information on the prevalence of COVID-19 in your community, your personal risk of contracting the virus, potential vaccine risks, the effectiveness of the vaccine, the side effects of the vaccine and data about the vaccine during pregnancy. Tell your doctor about your fears and have them help you check the facts.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), along with numerous other professional organizations, came together to issue a statement in favor of COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant and lactating people (available at the link below). As leaders in maternal care, public health, vaccination advocacy and vaccination education, they “strongly urge” all recently pregnant, future pregnant, currently pregnant, lactating, and other eligible women to become vaccinated against COVID-19. They report data from tens of thousands of individuals that meet the above description demonstrating that vaccination is safe and effective for pregnant people and their babies. Vaccination is more and more important as case numbers continue to rise across the country and the delta variant poses an increased risk to children.
Additional Resources about COVID Vaccination: