There’s a lot of conflicting Covid-19 vaccine information for women who are pregnant and breastfeeding. We look at the latest advice on getting vaccinated for Covid and what it means for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive
I’m pregnant or trying to become pregnant
Pregnancy increases the risk for respiratory complications and severe illness from Covid-19 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States.
Advice from Mayo Clinic indicates that pregnant women with underlying conditions, such as diabetes, may be at even more risk of severe illness from Covid-19. And Covid could increase the chance for preterm birth or other adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes.
Medical bodies around the world are therefore advising pregnant women to protect themselves from becoming sick with Covid and consider getting vaccinated. The Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective and getting the vaccine before or during pregnancy could protect you or your baby from severe illness.
The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) says, “if you’re pregnant and have not had a Covid-19 vaccine yet, it’s preferable for you to have the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.” The NHS goes on to reassure those who have had the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, saying if you have had it “for your first dose and did not have any serious side effects, you should have it again for your second dose.”
The NHS stresses that the vaccines cannot give you or your baby Covid-19
Can I breastfeed if I have the Covid-19 vaccination?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended you do not need to stop breastfeeding before or after your Covid vaccination.
Will the mRNA vaccine alter my DNA or my baby’s DNA?
A myth circulating on social media makes incorrect claims about DNA and the mRNA vaccines by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.
The mRNA vaccines do not alter DNA or cause genetic changes to you or your baby. It helps to understand how the mRNA vaccines work. The Covid-19 mRNA vaccines use a ‘messenger’ to teach your body to make a protein like the spike protein found on the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes Covid-19. The protein triggers an immune response in our bodies. And the immune response produces antibodies which protect us against getting the real virus if it enters our bodies.
So, contrary to rumours, the mRNA vaccines cannot affect or combine with our DNA in any way to change our genetic code says the Australian Government’s Department of Health.
If I take the mRNA vaccine is there a risk of infertility?
There is no evidence the Covid-19 vaccines have any effect on your chances of becoming pregnant and no link with the safe development of the placenta during pregnancy.
Medical experts have discredited the misleading claims falsely linking the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines with infertility in women and men, with Pfizer saying, “there is no data to suggest the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine candidate causes infertility.” And according to Mayo Clinic, “there is currently no evidence that Covid vaccines cause fertility problems.”
If you have any questions or concerns about getting vaccinated against Covid-19 consider consulting your doctor or a healthcare professional. You can book an at-home doctor’s visit via Nabta Health.
COVID-19 Vaccines While Pregnant or Breastfeeding, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 June 2021
Pregnancy, breastfeeding, fertility and coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/pregnancy-breastfeeding-fertility-and-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccination/
The Pfizer BioNTech (BNT162b2) COVID-19 vaccine: What you need to know, World Health Organisation, 20 April 2021 https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/who-can-take-the-pfizer-biontech-covid-19–vaccine
Is it true? Can COVID-19 vaccines alter my DNA? Australian Government Department of Health https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/is-it-true/is-it-true-can-covid-19-vaccines-alter-my-dna
Covid-19 vaccine not shown to cause female sterilization, AFP, 9 Dec 2020
COVID-19 vaccines: Get the facts, Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/coronavirus-vaccine/art-20484859#fertility-menstruation