COVID-19 Vaccine Protects Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women
Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or considering becoming pregnant might have concerns about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for mom’s health or the health of the baby?
“The risk to the mother of NOT getting vaccinated and then getting the COVID-19 infection is a higher risk to the infant than the potential small risk from getting vaccinated,” said David Basel, MD, Vice President of Avera Medical Group Quality.
Dr. Catherine Brockmeier and her baby
Catherine Brockmeier, DO, is a breastfeeding mom who did not hesitate to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Brockmeier is mom to four boys, including the newest addition, who arrived on Nov. 20, 2020.
“Although breastfeeding and pregnant women were excluded from the vaccine trials, there wasn’t any alarming safety data that raised red flags for me,” said Brockmeier, an OB/GYN physician at Avera Medical Group Family Health Center. “I’m a front-line health care worker with potential exposure, and the risks of getting COVID outweighed the risks of the vaccine for me.”
Trusted sources including the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to become pregnant get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Other good sources include:
Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine
American Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine
COVID-19 Vaccine Benefit Passes to Baby
The molecules in the vaccine are too large to pass through her breastmilk, so her infant shouldn’t get any exposure to the vaccine. However, the antibodies she develops from the vaccine pass through the breastmilk and protect her newborn, too.
“This passive immunity is especially important to him as he is a long way from his own vaccination,” said Brockmeier.
Dispelling Rumors About the COVID-19 Vaccine
A number of rumors have circulated around the COVID-19 vaccine. One social media article claimed the vaccine would cause infertility. In the article, it supposedly said that the protein in the vaccine shared similarities with a protein that is necessary in the formation of the placenta, and that the vaccine causes an antibody response to the protein related to placenta formation.
Scientists have debunked the myth that COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility. None of the vaccines are associated with miscarriage or pregnancy loss, either. They are not thought to disturb the development of an embryo or fetus because it isn’t a live virus and doesn’t enter the nucleus of cells.
She also addressed the idea that "new" technology was used, “The reality is that the mRNA technology they’ve used in this vaccine is not new. It’s been used to study other viruses including influenza.”
The CDC has been monitoring vaccination reactions in pregnant women who receive the COVID-19 vaccination. More than 30,000 pregnant women have been observed. Other than some rare, reversible cases of allergic reactions, the CDC has not seen any increase in adverse pregnancy outcomes.
Learn more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, which is now available for everyone 5 and older, at Avera.org/covid-vaccine.