COVID-19 Vaccination in Pregnancy: Pregnant women are at increased risk of preterm birth owing to severe illness related to COVID-19 infection. The risk of severe illness with COVID-19 increases in women who have gestational diabetes with a BMI of more than 40. Other pregnancy-related complications can also increase the risk of severe illness in pregnant women when they have COVID-19 infection. Therefore, COVID-19 vaccination seems to offer substantial protection against severe infection and COVID-related complications during pregnancy. Let us try to understand why you require vaccination during pregnancy.

Information from CDC

Women who are pregnant in general are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 when compared to women who are not pregnant. The risk of preterm delivery and other pregnancy-related complications increases manifold in pregnant women.

Severe illness means – the illness that requires oxygen support or special equipment to breathe, hospitalization, intensive care or ventilator support. Therefore, vaccination seems to be a saviour against severe COVID-19 infection.

Vaccination for women who would like to have a baby

As of now, there is no scientific study that claims that the COVID-19 vaccine causes fertility issues or problems in women who are trying to get pregnant. Women can still consider vaccination even if they are trying to get pregnant [3]. They can continue their pregnancy even after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. According to the information available on CDC’s website – scientists are extensively studying the side effects of vaccines and reporting their findings as and when they are available.

Safety of COVID-19 Vaccination in pregnancy

Researchers believe that COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk for pregnant women. However, limited data are available about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in women who are pregnant [1].

Pregnant women have not reported having any different side effects than non-pregnant women after receiving COVID-19 (mRNA) vaccination (Moderna and Pfizer vaccines) [2].

The latest data from the USA wherein up to 1,00,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated with Moderna and Pfizer vaccines has not raised any safety concerns. However, there is limited data on COVID-19 and pregnancy in the UK [4].

There are no known harmful ingredients in COVID-19 vaccines that can cause problems to pregnant women and developing baby [4].

Mild fever and muscle aches lasting a day or two are the common side effects of COVID-19 vaccination.

Allergic problems or clotting problems are very rare.

According to a peer-reviewed article titled, “COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy and postpartum” – from the obtained observational clinical studies, preclinical experimental data, the risks of maternal infection are high compared to hypothetical or undocumented risks associated with COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy – therefore, guidance reached to the conclusion that COVID-19 vaccines can be administered during pregnancy. However, many aspects remained to be clarified [5].

The following aspects you can consider discussing with your gynaecologist pertaining to COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy:

  • Your risk of being exposed to COVID-19.
  • The risk COVID-19 poses to you and your growing baby.
  • What are the risks of developing severe allergic reactions to vaccine?
  • Any UpToDate information regarding the safety of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy.
  • How efficient are the vaccines to develop protection against the infection?
  • What are the known side effects of the vaccine?
  • About the growing information regarding the safety of the vaccine during pregnancy.

Takeaway

You should, first of all, completely understand the pros and cons of having the COVID-19 vaccine and the final decision to have the vaccination during pregnancy is yours only. However, ensure that you understand every single detail of it as much as possible – and put forth your options with an obstetrician and gynaecologist whom you trust.

Bottom Line

If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant in the near future, you can consider a COVID-19 vaccine [3]

Reports have shown that women who have received COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy – during their 3rd trimester have passed antibodies to their foetus. Thus, the child can get protection after birth. Furthermore, according to some recent reports’ breastfeeding women who received COVID-19 vaccination have antibodies in their breastmilk. Whether these antibodies offer any protection to the baby needs to be determined with additional data and studies.

If you still have questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and its safety during pregnancy and for the foetus, please contact me at CARE Hospitals, Gachibowli by fixing an appointment.

Call: +91 99636 89895

Learn More About COVID-19 Vaccination in Pregnancy (Telugu Version – Youtube Video) by Dr. Rajeshwari Reddy

References

  1. Limited data are available about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/pregnancy.html
  2. COVID-19 Vaccines While Pregnant or Breastfeeding – “Vaccine side effects” – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/pregnancy.html
  3. 3. COVID-19 vaccines, pregnancy and breastfeeding – “Key Messages” – https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/coronavirus-covid-19-pregnancy-and-womens-health/covid-19-vaccines-and-pregnancy/covid-19-vaccines-pregnancy-and-breastfeeding/
  4. COVID-19 vaccines, pregnancy and breastfeeding – “Is COVID-19 vaccination safe and effective in pregnant women?” https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/coronavirus-covid-19-pregnancy-and-womens-health/covid-19-vaccines-and-pregnancy/covid-19-vaccines-pregnancy-and-breastfeeding/
  5. COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy and postpartum – “Results” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33998379/