Since the vaccine rollout began, thousands of pregnant women in the United States have received the vaccines “with no red flags,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser on COVID-19 to President Biden, said in February 2021, and a registry called v-safe is following outcomes among pregnant vaccinated people.
Dr. Riley, who is also the chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medicine and chair of the Immunization and Emerging Infections Expert Work Group at ACOG, shared with Health Matters what she knows about the COVID-19 vaccines in use in the United States and what women who are pregnant, thinking about getting pregnant, or lactating should know.
What is the recommendation for pregnant women?
The recommendation from ACOG, the FDA, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is all the same for pregnant women. If you’re in a high-risk group that’s going to be offered the vaccine, you too should consider getting 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 live vaccines to lactating women all the time. If we were really worried about something, it would be live vaccines, and this is not that, so we have zero concern about this. 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.