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Pregnancy and COVID-19

Pregnancy and COVID-19

Looking forward to starting a family, or having another child? The COVID-19 pandemic adds some concerns around getting pregnant, and keeping mom and baby safe. Some prospective parents may worry that vaccination to help protect against COVID-19 will affect their fertility, or the course of a pregnancy. There is no evidence that vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines - none of which contain live virus - cause fertility problems in females or males, notes the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and several professional medical associations.1

In fact, the CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccination and boosters for people who are pregnant, breast-feeding, and those who may wish to become pregnant now or in the future.2 And if you become pregnant after having your first dose of vaccine, the CDC also recommends getting your second shot for maximum protection.1

COVID-19 vaccination does not affect fertility and is safe in pregnancy, according to several studies, including an analysis of vaccine safety monitoring data [v-safe safety monitoring system] from almost 5,000 women who had a positive pregnancy test after their first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (i.e., Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna). Similarly, studies have not found an increased risk of miscarriage among people who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine just before and during early pregnancy (before 20 weeks of pregnancy).2

Prospective moms may be aware that pregnancy-related changes in the immune system increase a person’s overall risk of having more severe illness from respiratory viruses. In most cases, women who catch COVID-19 during pregnancy will have mild-to-moderate symptoms or no symptoms at all. However, pregnancy is associated with higher risks of becoming severely ill from COVID- 19 and of having complications that could affect the pregnancy, compared to not being pregnant.2 A recent Public Health Agency of Canada report indicates that pregnant women with COVID-19 were approximately 6 times more likely to be hospitalized than non-pregnant women with the infection (11% versus 1.7%). The risk of ICU admission was also higher in this group.3

COVID-19 vaccination can help protect you and your baby! It appears that a mother’s antibodies may be passed on to their baby through the placenta and also through breast-feeding. At 6 months of age, 57% of babies born to people who were vaccinated during pregnancyhad detectable antibodies against COVID-19, compared to just 8% of those born to unvaccinated mothers who had a COVID-19 infection during pregnancy.4

Two doses of an mRNA vaccine during pregnancy can help protect babies younger than 6 months old from hospitalization due to COVID-19, according to another small study showing 84% of babies hospitalized with COVID-19 were born to people who had not been vaccinated during pregnancy.5

And antibodies have also been found in the breastmilk of breastfeeding people who have had an mRNA COVID-19 vaccination, which could help protect their babies, although more study is needed.6

Keep your family safe - practice social distancing, keep wearing a mask in high-risk situations, and get vaccinated against COVID-19.

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This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

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  1. CDC. COVID-19 Vaccines for People Who Would Like to Have a Baby. Updated Mar. 3, 2022.
  2. CDC. Pregnant and Recently Pregnant People At Increased Risk for Severe Illness from COVID-19. Updated Mar. 3, 2022.
  3. Canadian Surveillance Of Covid-19 In Pregnancy: Epidemiology, Maternal And Infant Outcomes. Report #1: Released December 2nd, 2020: Early Release: Maternal and Infant Outcomes (March 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020) from Three Canadian Provinces.
  4. Durability of Anti-Spike Antibodies in Infants After Maternal COVID-19 Vaccination or Natural Infection.
  5. COVID-19 Vaccines While Pregnant or Breastfeeding. Updated Mar. 3, 2022.
  6. COVID vaccines and breastfeeding: what the data say. Nature. June 23, 2021