What Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women Should Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine

Recently, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommended that pregnant individuals be free to make their own decision regarding COVID-19 vaccination

When the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were first given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), the decision to get vaccinated or not was left up to each mother to decide, based on her own situation. Many pregnant health care workers did decide to get vaccinated, as health care personnel were the first group able to receive the vaccine.

Medical Director of Obstetrics and Gynecology at AdventHealth Medical Group, D. Ashley Hill, MD, and Medical Director of High-Risk Pregnancy, Rachel Humphrey, MD, share what you should know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding and trying to decide whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine During Pregnancy

In addition to the American Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology, many other professional organizations have advocated for pregnant women to have the choice to be vaccinated. This is likely because the data currently available shows symptomatic pregnant patients with COVID-19 have an increased risk of more severe illness compared to nonpregnant people.

No Evidence of Harm to Pregnant Women

“Organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, note that although there are no COVID-19 vaccine studies just of pregnant women, there is no evidence that the vaccine is harmful to women trying to get pregnant, who are now pregnant, or who plan to breastfeed,” says Dr. Hill. As of February 10, NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci shared during a White House briefing that 20,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated against COVID-19 without complications.

Pregnant Women Are in High-Risk Population

When compared to symptomatic women who are not pregnant, pregnant women have an increased risk of ICU admission and the need for ventilation or support. These risk factors have led to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to include pregnancy as part of the high-risk population when it comes to COVID-19 and other illnesses.

“Since pregnant women with COVID-19 infections are at an increased risk of preterm birth, intensive care unit admission or death, pregnant and breastfeeding women should be offered the COVID-19 vaccine,” Dr. Hill explains.

Factors to Consider for Pregnant Women

Keeping the risks in mind, the CDC advises that those who are pregnant consider the following when deciding whether to get vaccinated against COVID-19:

  • Possible damaging health outcomes if you do contract COVID-19

  • Risk of acquiring COVID-19 (based on community transmission, occupation, etc.)