If you are pregnant and get COVID-19, you have a greater chance of getting very sick. This puts you in a high-risk category. By getting the COVID-19 vaccine, pregnant women significantly reduce their risk of complications

Coronavirus Updates, Women's Health | 6 months ago

Pregnant or Trying to Get Pregnant? Here's What You Should Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine

Do you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy? Atrium Health experts share helpful information surrounding this important topic.

Information current as of March 19, 2021

Following the health and safety recommendations provided by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)the state of North Carolina recently expanded the next phase of vaccinations to Group 4, includingthose with chronic or high-risk health conditions. Due to the high-risk nature of pregnancy, expecting mothers fall within Group 4,and are now categorized as eligible according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Resources

Here, Lorene Temming, MD, OB/GYN, Maternal Fetal Medicine and Medical Director of Labor and Delivery with Atrium Health and Katie Passaretti, MD, medical director of infection prevention at Atrium Health respond to some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy.

If I am pregnant, should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

If you are pregnant and get COVID-19you have a greater chance of getting very sick. This puts you in a high-risk category. Even though you may be high risk, we don’t know how safe COVID-19 vaccines are for pregnant women. This is because there is limited information on pregnant women and the COVID-19 vaccines. 

There are different types of COVID-19 vaccines. Some of these types have been studied in pregnant women and some have not:

  • mRNA vaccine(not studied in pregnant women before being used to prevent COVID) the first COVID vaccineavailable (includes the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines). This type does not havelive virusIt is thought to be low risk.  Initial information from pregnant women who have gotten the vaccines does not show risk to the mother or the baby.  
  • Viral vector vaccines(studied in pregnant women for other virusesThis type of vaccine has been released more recently (Includes the Johnson and Johnson vaccine) This type also does not have live virus and has been used before in other vaccines like the one for the Ebola virus.  When given to pregnant women it met safety standards. 
  • Other COVID -19 vaccines(studied in pregnant women for other virusesnowin earlier stages of development. These types use more traditional methods that are well-studied with pregnant women. 
  • Any type of COVID vaccine may give some protection to the baby. The baby could get some of the antibodies (proteins made by the immune system to fight the virus) from the mom. 
  • Iyou are pregnant and thinking about getting the vaccine, you can discuss with your doctorFind out what risk factors you have that could make you very sick with COVID-19. You should also talk about safety and the risk of the vaccine. You and your doctor can decide if getting the vaccine is the best choice. 

How else can I protect myself from COVID-19 while I’m pregnant? 

Pregnant women have a greater chance of getting very sick from COVID-19. This is why it’s important to protect yourself. For that reason, pregnant women and their families should practice COVID-safe behaviors. You should stay a safe distance from otherswear a mask and wash your hands often

Family members of pregnant women should also think about getting the vaccine if itavailable to them. 

What if I get the vaccine and then find out I was pregnant when I got it?

If you find out you were pregnant when you got the vaccine, the risks are low. 

Initial information from pregnant women who have gotten the vaccine does not show risk to the mother or the baby.  Pregnant women who got the vaccine have experienced side effects similar to non-pregnant women. Pregnant women who have gotten the vaccine have not had increased rates of pregnancy complications.  

If I am pregnant and eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, should I get it?

If you are pregnant, youcan talk to your doctor about the vaccine Consider your risk factors for getting COVID-19.  Find out what risk factors you have that could make you very sick with COVID-19.You should also talk about safety and the risk of the vaccine. You and your doctor can decide if getting the vaccine is the best choice. 

If I am breastfeeding and eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, should I get it?

If you are breastfeeding and offered the COVID-19 vaccine, you should know that initial information shows no risk to the infant from the mother getting vaccinated. 

There is some evidence to suggest that getting the vaccine while breastfeeding can protect your baby from getting COVID-19.  The protective antibodies your body makes may pass to the baby in the breastmilk. 

Should a person get the vaccine if they’re trying to get pregnant or having fertility treatment?

There is no evidence to support the false claims linking the vaccine to infertility. With this in mind, the vaccine continues to be recommended for all eligible people who may consider future pregnancy.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicinedoes not recommend avoiding the vaccine for patients planning to get pregnant soon.  Since the vaccine is not a live virus there is no reason to delay pregnancy attempts because you have received the vaccine or if you plan to get the vaccine later. 

Patients undergoing fertility treatment should consider getting vaccinated when eligible based on their risk factors (such as being a healthcare worker or having higher-risk medical conditions). 

Because the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines do not have a live virus, they are not thought to cause an increased risk of infertility, first or second trimester loss, stillbirth or congenital abnormalities.

Additional resources

This information may be updated when more information is available.To learn more, check outthe sources below for additional resources and information:

Dr. Temming is the lead physician for Atrium Health’s labor and delivery coronavirus response and part of the Atrium Health highly infectious disease team. She works on clinical protocols, research and quality improvement on labor and delivery. Dr. Temming is Board certified in Obstetrics and gynecology and in maternal fetal medicine by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology 

Dr. Passaretti serves as the Medical Director of Infection Prevention for Atrium Health and is an attending faculty physician in the Department of Internal Medicine. Dr. Passaretti is board certified in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases, and has been instrumental in leading Atrium Health's efforts on the COVID-19 task force.