If you’re pregnant or postpartum, you’re probably wondering if you can get the Covid-19 vaccine. According to the CDC, those pregnant or postpartum women who are eligible to get the vaccine may choose to get vaccinated, but they are at an increased risk of illness from any side effects associated with the vaccine.
So what does that mean for you? Well, according to Dr. Shieva Ghofrany, an OB-GYN based in Stamford, CT, the risk associated with pregnant women contracting Covid-19 far outweighs the risk of any illness associated with the vaccine (like a short-term cold, exhaustion or fever). So, according to Dr. Ghofrany, YES, if a pregnant or nursing woman can get the vaccine, she absolutely should.
“While we haven’t prospectively studied the vaccine in pregnant or nursing women, we know that pregnant people can get much sicker with Covid-19 than non-pregnant people,” Dr. Ghofrany says. “So I believe that any potential concerns for vaccine is worth the protection you get from it. I am encouraging my pregnant and postpartum patients to get the vaccine.” In its lengthy vaccine Q+A, The New York Times also recommends pregnant women get the vaccine.
However, like everything in pregnancy, there are two sides to almost every story. The Hill reported that the World Health Organization advises pregnant women forego getting the Moderna vaccine unless they are essential workers or have preexisting conditions. “While pregnancy puts women at a higher risk of severe COVID-19, the use of this vaccine in pregnant women is currently not recommended, unless they are at risk of high exposure (e.g. health workers),” the WHO posted on its website.
According to WHO, the Moderna vaccine needs to conduct more data and clinical trials on pregnant women before the WHO can recommend it. “There is no reason to think there could be a problem in pregnancy, we are just acknowledging the data is not there at the moment,” said Kate O’Brien, WHO’s director of immunization, Reuters reported.
In terms of breastfeeding, the CDC says no data exists on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in lactating women or on the effects of mRNA vaccines on the breastfed infant or on milk production/excretion. However, mRNA vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant. People who are breastfeeding and are part of a group recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, such as healthcare personnel, may choose to be vaccinated.
So what does this tell you? Sadly, nothing definitive. Only that you should check in with your healthcare provider and make the choice that’s right for you. If you’re in the position to quarantine for the duration of your pregnancy, you might make a different call than another mama-to-be who’s working in essential roles. Check in with your trusted team of providers and do what feels right for you.