The simple answer is "Yes". As with any medical procedure or medication, you should always check with your health care provider–who is familiar with your medical history– before proceeding. However, being pregnant or breastfeeding is not a reason to skip the COVID-19 vaccine. With the rise in highly transmissible variants of the COVID-19 virus, vaccination is even more important to prenatal care.
Similar to other viruses and bacteria, COVID-19 can cause more severe illness during pregnancy. Studies show that people who get COVID-19 during pregnancy are:
- more likely to be admitted to the ICU, need ventilation, and/or need oxygen compared to non-pregnant people.
- at higher risk for preeclampsia (a condition of pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine, that can cause dizziness, vomiting, swelling of the ankles and feet, and even seizures or death).
- at higher risk of death.
Babies born to those who get COVID-19 during pregnancy are at higher risk of complications, such as more likely to be preterm or stillborn, and require care in the neonatal unit.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine (SMFM) strongly recommend vaccination for pregnant people, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently strengthened its recommendation in favor of vaccination. Noting that the Delta variant is highly transmissible and unvaccinated pregnant people are experiencing severe outcomes, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, said: “CDC encourages all pregnant people or people who are thinking about becoming pregnant and those breastfeeding to get vaccinated to protect themselves from COVID-19.”
Pregnant women were not included in clinical trials prior to the release of these vaccines, but many have taken the vaccination since its release. Review of data from more than 2,456 people enrolled in the V-safe COVID-19 Vaccine Pregnancy Registry, has shown no increased risk to women who took the vaccine preconception or before 20 weeks of gestation. Additional studies have not found any concerns about vaccination at any point in pregnancy.
In fact, studies show that the COVID-19 vaccine (like other vaccines) conveys some protection to the babies born to vaccinated mothers. Antibodies have been detected as crossing the placenta and in breast milk. Once vaccinated, the mother’s body makes antibodies to fight COVID-19 and, if breastfeeding, shares those antibodies with the baby through her breast milk.
Furthermore, when parents and caregivers are vaccinated, they create a safer environment for an unvaccinated baby. Making sure everyone in your baby’s immediate circle is vaccinated will greatly reduce their risk of exposure to the virus.