The COVID-19 Vaccines Are Safe For Pregnant People, Says CDC

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If you’re pregnant and unsure of whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you do. The CDC now has definitive data confirming that the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are safe and effective for pregnant women.

“This is great news,” says D’Angela Pitts, M.D., a maternal fetal medicine specialist with Henry Ford Health System. “When the vaccine first came out, there was no reason to believe they wouldn’t be safe for pregnant women. However, the data wasn’t there. Now, we have firm evidence to confirm the COVID-19 vaccines are safe for pregnant women.” 

Vaccination during any stage of pregnancy does not carry safety concerns for the pregnant woman or for the baby. Contracting COVID-19 while pregnant, however, does carry safety concerns.

“Pregnant women who contract COVID-19 are at an increased risk of illness and pregnancy complications,” says Dr. Pitts. “With the highly contagious Delta variant circulating, I would urge everyone get vaccinated, for their benefit, the benefit of their children, and the benefit of their community.”

Here, Dr. Pitts answers questions about the COVID-19 vaccines that pregnant women may have.

Q: Is it better to get vaccinated during a certain stage of pregnancy?

A: No—you can get vaccinated during any stage of pregnancy. Getting vaccinated during pregnancy allows you to pass protective COVID-19 antibodies to the baby.

Q: Can vaccination cause miscarriage?

A: No. A CDC analysis confirms that vaccination in early pregnancy does not increase the risk of miscarriage. “Miscarriage typically occurs in about 11 – 16% of pregnancies, and this study found that miscarriage rates after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine were around 13%, similar to the expected rate of miscarriage in the general population,” writes the CDC.

Q: Is one vaccine more highly recommended for pregnant women than the others?

A: There is no difference among the vaccines when it comes to one being preferred for pregnant women. Some women may feel more comfortable choosing Pfizer or Moderna, due to the very rare cases of blood clotting seen with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. However, all the vaccines are safe and highly effective at preventing COVID-19. 

Q: Are there any vaccine side effects that pregnant women can experience?

A: The COVID-19 vaccines can cause side effects in anyone who gets vaccinated, such as injection site pain in the arm, fever, muscle pain, chills and headache. If you’re pregnant and experience a fever, your doctor may advise you to take acetaminophen (such as Tylenol). Symptoms should go away after a day or two.

According to a peer-review study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, pregnant women reported more pain at their injection site than non-pregnant women, but they also reported fewer symptoms of headache, chills, muscle aches and fever.

Q: Can you get the COVID-19 vaccine while breastfeeding?

A: Yes. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe to receive while breastfeeding. In fact, evidence has shown that breastfeeding mothers who have received mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) have antibodies in their breastmilk, which could help protect their babies from contracting COVID-19.

Q: If I want to get pregnant in the future, will the COVID-19 vaccines affect my fertility?

A: No, the COVID-19 vaccines do not affect fertility. “Women who participated in the COVID-19 clinical trials were able to conceive after vaccination," says Dr. Pitts. "We also have many patients here at Henry Ford who got vaccinated and then became pregnant afterwards. There’s no evidence to show that the COVID-19 vaccines lead to reduced fertility.”

Q: Can the COVID-19 vaccines affect male fertility?

A: No, there is no evidence that the vaccines affect male fertility. While fever can be a side effect of the COVID-19 vaccines--and fever can cause a temporary decline in sperm production--it isn't much different from experiencing a fever from COVID-19 or another illness.

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To learn more, visit HenryFord.com/Vaccine for answers to frequently asked COVID-19 vaccine questions.

D'Angela Pitts, M.D., is a gynecologist and obstetrician with Henry Ford Health System. She specializes in maternal fetal medicine and sees patients at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, Henry Ford Medical Center in Dearborn and Henry Ford Medical Center in Detroit.

Categories: FeelWell