Yes, You Can Get the COVID Vaccine If You Are Pregnant [updated]

Pregnancy does not invalidate your eligibility for the COVID vaccine, whether you read the CDC guidelines or the new World Health Organization guidelines. A couple of headings implied something different, so let’s get to the bottom of what we know.

Whether to get the vaccine is a personal decision made by the doctor.

Let’s be clear on what the recommendations really are. In short, all organizations agree that people who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant can receive the vaccine.

Different agencies put it differently, but if you are at risk of contracting COVID (for example, if you work in the healthcare industry) or if you are at risk of complications (for example, you have heart disease), both CDC WHO recommends getting vaccinated.

CDC says:

Pregnant people in the [priority] group recommended for COVID-19 vaccination may choose to be vaccinated. If they have questions about vaccinations, talking with their doctor can help them make an informed decision.

In other words, they see vaccination as a personal choice, and any pregnant person can choose to be vaccinated if the vaccine is available to them. Pregnancy does not change your priority group.

Earlier this week, the World Health Organization took a slightly more pessimistic view, initially stating that “WHO recommends not using [the Moderna vaccine] during pregnancy unless” the pregnant person has other medical conditions or is at high risk of contracting COVID-19. …

But the WHO updated its recommendations following public outcry, now stating :

Although pregnancy puts women at a higher risk of severe COVID-19, very little data is available to assess the safety of a vaccine during pregnancy.

However, based on what we know about this type of vaccine, we do not have any specific reason to believe that there will be certain risks that outweigh the benefits of vaccination for pregnant women.

For this reason, pregnant women who are at high risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 (such as healthcare workers) or who have comorbidities that increase their risk of severe illness may be vaccinated after consulting their healthcare provider.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advocates that no one stands between a pregnant person and their COVID vaccine. Christopher Zahn, MD, ACOG’s Vice President of Practice, responded to WHO’s initial position with the following statement:

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) remains firmly committed to its recommendation that both COVID-19 vaccines, currently approved by the FDA, should be available to pregnant people who choose to get the vaccine. However, we acknowledge that conflicting recommendations from the World Health Organization may be of concern to many pregnant women who are currently unable to make decisions about vaccination. … ACOG strongly advocates the inclusion of pregnant people in COVID-19 vaccine trials so that we now have data to support the safety and efficacy of vaccines for this population. But even in the absence of these data, pregnant people should be aware that the principle of vaccine action and the first data from animal studies give us reason to believe that there should be no harmful effects on the fetus or female reproductive function.

ACOG has guidance to help healthcare providers talk to pregnant patients about whether the COVID vaccine makes sense for them.

Why recommendations differ

For both the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine (two vaccines currently approved for emergency use in the US) , no pregnant women participated in clinical trials that showed the vaccine to be safe and effective. However, some people became pregnant during the trials, and researchers followed these people to see how they and their children were doing.

This lack of data explains why public health authorities may be reluctant to recommend the vaccine to pregnant women or, in some cases, people who might become pregnant.

However, there is no reason to believe that the vaccine will work differently in pregnant people than in those who are not pregnant. Despite the rumors you may have seen, mRNA vaccines do not alter DNA and are not known to cause infertility or pregnancy problems. Vaccines do not contain the virus itself, and so far, animal studies have not identified any safety concerns related to pregnancy or fetal development.

“Based on the mechanism of action of these vaccines and the demonstrated safety and efficacy in phase II and phase III clinical trials, the vaccine’s safety and efficacy profile for pregnant women is expected to be similar to that observed in non-pregnant women. people, ”says the ACOG handbook.

Does it make sense to get vaccinated if I am pregnant?

People who are pregnant, compared to those who are not pregnant, are at increased risk of ending up in an intensive care unit or becoming seriously ill if they contract COVID-19. What we know about vaccines indicates that they are generally effective and safe. But due to lack of information, we do not know how effective and safe they are for pregnant women. Depending on how you feel about these unknowns and what level of risk you would otherwise face, you will have to make a decision, but rest assured that your supplier can help you with this.

If you are at a low risk of complications and if you are not working at a high-risk job, you may decide that it is better for you to wait until the end of your pregnancy to get the vaccine. It is a choice that you absolutely can make. If you think that you will be better off with the vaccine than without it, this is also your choice. Talk with your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits, and how you would like to deal with them.

If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or have recently become pregnant, the guidelines still allow you to get vaccinated. Even the WHO, which stated that the Modern vaccine is “not recommended” for pregnancy, does not recommend requiring a pregnancy test before vaccination and does not recommend any specific amount of time to wait after pregnancy.

This post was originally published on January 28 and was updated on January 29, 2021 at 4:05 pm to reflect the changing World Health Organization guidelines.

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