“The data from the study should be very reassuring to pregnant women,” says Dr. Laura Riley, obstetrician and gynecologist-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
In addition, a new study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology found that women in their third trimester of pregnancy who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine passed protective antibodies through the umbilical cord to their babies. Ninety-nine percent of newborns had protective antibodies after their mothers received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, the study by NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine researchers found.
“It shows that there may be an added benefit to the vaccine, because now the vaccine protects not only you, it may also protect your baby,” says Dr. Riley, one of the study’s authors.
Dr. Riley says the growing data on the safety of the vaccine for pregnant women is exciting.
“Based on how the vaccines work, we don’t think there’s any biologic reason that we should be concerned about their safety in pregnancy,” says Dr. Riley, who is also the chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medicine and a member of the COVID-19 expert work group at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). “What’s really important is that we do have lots of epidemiologic data which suggests that pregnancy plus COVID-19 is not a good mix. Pregnant women have had more admissions to the ICU, more mechanical ventilation, and more deaths, although the absolute number is low. The flip side is you’ve got a vaccine that works to prevent severe illness.”
Dr. Riley shared with Health Matters what women who are pregnant, thinking about getting pregnant, or lactating should know about the COVID-19 vaccines.
What is the recommendation for pregnant women?
The CDC and ACOG say if you are pregnant, you should have access to the vaccine. You should be offered it just like anybody else. You do not need a doctor’s approval. You can make that decision. But if you want to talk more with someone about the pros and cons, then I would suggest you talk to your OB or your midwife.
What about women who are breastfeeding?
They should get the vaccine and protect themselves from getting COVID. The way this vaccine works, there’s no reason to suspect that it gets into breast milk and can in any way get to the child. We give vaccines to lactating women all the time. And we definitely don’t want people to stop breastfeeding to get the vaccine.
Should women who are planning to get pregnant have any reservations?
No. They should just go ahead and get it done. If by chance you become pregnant between the first and second dose, you should complete the series and attain the maximal benefit from the vaccine. The last thing they need is to be in the first trimester and get COVID-19. We know that the vaccine is the best possible intervention to protect ourselves from COVID-19.
Can the COVID vaccine cause infertility?
There is no evidence that the COVID vaccine can cause infertility. In clinical trials and among the millions of people who have received the vaccine, we’ve seen no link between the vaccine and a loss of fertility. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommends the vaccine for those seeking to become pregnant.