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Safety of the COVID -19 Vaccine for Pregnant and Lactating People


Here we are, a few days shy of one year from the date when the first COVID-19 case was diagnosed in the USA, about 10 miles from my home in Seattle, WA, and only 13 months since the world learned for the first time of this soon to be a prolific and devastating virus.

In the United States, there are currently two vaccines that are approved and being administered to the public in a series of rolled out phases: Pfizer-BioNtech mRNA vaccine and Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine. Globally, those vaccines, in addition to others from different manufacturers have been also approved and are available. If you are pregnant and/or lactating, you are likely wanting to know if it is appropriate and safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Initial testing for the vaccines did not include pregnant or lactating volunteers and so there is limited information on efficacy, safety, or the impact on the fetus or human milk.

Several prominent and respected organizations -- American College of Nurse-Midwives, Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine, Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, and Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health -- recently released a joint statement called, “COVID Vaccine Advice if You Are Pregnant or Breastfeeding.” The statement helps families understand current knowledge in order to make a decision on choosing to be vaccinated against COVID-19 while pregnant or lactating. This document is current, easy to understand, and very useful.

If you are pregnant and/or lactating and you choose to get vaccinated in the United States, in addition to participating in the Centers for Disease Control’s V-Safe program (an after-vaccination health checker that is open to all people), you can also enroll in specific trials and studies looking at impacts on pregnancy, the fetus, and lactation. The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine has aggregated a list of those registries here.

The summaries of all the above documents conclude that the benefits of the vaccination seem to outweigh the risks of getting COVID-19 while pregnant, the latter of which has been shown to put pregnant people at higher risk of increased morbidity and mortality.

Each person, in consultation with their doctor or midwife, should discuss current information and benefits and risks for their own situation. The conversation may help you make a decision on whether to proceed with vaccination.


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