Can you get vaccinated?
Since the COVID-19 vaccine was first released, there have been many questions surrounding its safety and effectiveness. This certainly applies to moms-to-be who worry if it’s safe to get vaccinated while pregnant. You may also wonder about the safety of getting pregnant after you're vaccinated for COVID-19. Here’s what you need to know when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy.
Many people in the U.S. are now fully vaccinated, thanks to the widespread availability of vaccines across the country. This includes vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. When the vaccines were first approved, pregnant women were allowed to choose if they wanted to be vaccinated. Doctors neither recommended nor discouraged them from taking the vaccine. This was because pregnant women hadn’t been included in vaccine trials, so not enough was known about the safety of the vaccine for an unborn baby and mom.
Research is ongoing, and the COVID-19 vaccine is still being offered to women who are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant. Current information says that there is no reason not to get vaccinated if you are:
- Pregnant or think that you could be pregnant
- Trying to get pregnant
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that the COVID-19 vaccine shouldn’t be withheld from pregnant women or women who are trying to get pregnant. But these women should talk to their doctors about the vaccine and pregnancy first, especially if they have concerns.
Does the vaccine affect fertility?
One of the first pieces of misinformation to come out surrounding the safety of the vaccine was that it caused fertility problems for women who were trying to become pregnant. Scientists and doctors want to dispel this rumor. Research shows that there is no reason to think that there are any risks when it comes to fertility and the vaccine.
As studies on the vaccine and pregnancy continue, there is currently no evidence to support that the vaccine causes infertility in women. Past speculation was that the COVID-19 vaccine could use syncytin-1 to attack the body. This is a protein in the placenta that happens to share a tiny piece of genetic code with a protein in the vaccine. Even though they’re similar, their structures are different enough that your immune system can’t get confused.
Human vaccine trials didn’t include specific studies on fertility. Even so, experts agree that there is no reason to delay getting pregnant or to avoid taking the vaccine. The vaccine may help to protect your health throughout your pregnancy.
Is the vaccine safe for pregnant women?
Experts agree that it’s safe to get pregnant after having the COVID-19 vaccine. But what about women who are already pregnant?
Current information shows that the risk of having serious symptoms and illness goes up for pregnant women with COVID-19. They are more at risk than women of similar age who aren’t pregnant. Pregnant women have a higher chance of needing hospitalization in an intensive care unit (ICU) and needing a higher level of care. This may include needing the support of a machine to breathe.
The risk of death is also higher for pregnant women than nonpregnant women. In addition to having more serious symptoms, pregnant women with COVID-19 also have a higher risk of delivering their baby preterm.
Doctors believe that pregnant women who get COVID-19 have up to a three times higher chance of serious illness than people who aren’t pregnant. But studies have shown positive effects of getting the vaccine while pregnant. One study from The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that antibodies were found in the umbilical cord and breast milk of women who were vaccinated. This means that the vaccine can help both you and your baby — throughout your pregnancy and beyond.
Other ways to protect yourself from COVID-19
Besides getting vaccinated, the CDC recommends that pregnant women limit their interactions with people who have been exposed to the virus. You should always wear a mask in crowded places. Also wear a mask when it isn’t possible to stay at least six feet away from the people around you.
Try to avoid places with poor ventilation. If you’re indoors, try to keep windows and doors open to let in fresh air. Wash your hands with soap often and for at least 20 seconds every time. Make sure to wash your hands when you:
- Come in from a public place
- Cover your mouth to sneeze or cough
- Prepare or eat food
- Use the washroom
- Touch your face
- Blow your nose
- Change a diaper
All of these tips, along with vaccination, can help ensure that you have a safe and healthy pregnancy.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Harvard Health Publishing: "Wondering about COVID-19 vaccines if you're pregnant or considering pregnancy?"
Johns Hopkins Medicine: "The COVID-19 Vaccine and Pregnancy: What You Need to Know.?"
MU Health Care: "Does the COVID-19 Vaccine Affect Fertility? Here's What the Experts Say."
NHS: "Pregnancy, breastfeeding, fertility and coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination."
UChicagoMedicine: "COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy: What you need to know if you're pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding."
YaleNewHavenHealth: "Pregnant or Planning to Become Pregnant? Here's What You Need to Know about the COVID-19 Vaccine."
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