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Pregnancy and COVID-19 Vaccination

Jan 11, 2021
By Spencer Blackman, MD

Updated August 12, 2021.

If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, deciding whether or not to get a COVID-19 vaccine may seem daunting. The current vaccines have been in use for a short time, and we are still acquiring the safety data that we rely on for other vaccines, such as those for the flu or measles. At One Medical, we are here to help you make this important decision and feel confident about your choice. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each option.

Pro: Why pregnant people should consider getting vaccinated

There are two main reasons to choose to be vaccinated: protection from the coronavirus, and the existing safety data.

One of the best ways to reduce the risk of severe illness or lasting complications from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. Vaccination with either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines significantly reduces the risk of illness, with initial studies demonstrating that they were 94% effective against COVID-19 hospitalization among fully vaccinated adults over 65 years old. Even as newer and more infective strains of COVID-19 appear, experts still agree that COVID-19 vaccines are your best chance in preventing serious illness if you are exposed to the virus.

Though the risk of severe illness is low, pregnant individuals are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, including hospitalization and death, compared to others. Early data, however, suggests that pregnant women who receive a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, develop the same level of protection as non-pregnant women. Likewise, some preliminary research has detected antibodies in the infants of individuals fully vaccinated during pregnancy, suggesting that vaccination during pregnancy may provide protection for newborns as well.

Early data on the safety of these vaccines for pregnant individuals has also been reassuring. Leading obstetrics organization, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology says, “There is no evidence of adverse maternal or fetal effects from vaccinating pregnant individuals with the COVID-19 vaccine.” Likewise, the CDC has not identified any safety concerns for pregnant people who were vaccinated or for their babies. Pregnant animals have also been included in vaccine studies and no harm from the vaccination was observed in either the pregnant animal or her offspring.

At this time, additional COVID-19 vaccine studies on pregnant people are underway.

Con: Why pregnant people might not want to get vaccinated

It’s understandable to be cautious when deciding to get a new vaccine. Although no evidence so far suggests the vaccine is dangerous if you are pregnant, there aren’t enough studies published yet to officially confirm the safety and effectiveness in pregnancy, like those we have for the flu shot and other recommended vaccines. We will continue to learn more in the coming months from the COVID-19 vaccine studies that are happening now, and from pregnant people who are currently being vaccinated in the US and other countries.

In terms of the potential side effects after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, there are some reports of people developing a fever for a day or two. The CDC recommends using acetaminophen (Tylenol) during pregnancy to control fever. If you are worried about this rare potential risk, you can opt to plan your COVID-19 vaccination for after the 12th week of your pregnancy.

What do the experts say about getting vaccinated if you are pregnant?

Both the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, who set national health care guidelines, as well as reproductive health clinical leaders at One Medical recommend that all pregnant individuals be vaccinated against COVID-19.

What do the experts say about getting vaccinated if you are not pregnant but are trying to conceive?

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as reproductive health clinical leaders at One Medical strongly encourage vaccination for COVID-19 for individuals that are not pregnant and also recommend COVID-19 vaccination for individuals who are actively trying to become pregnant or are thinking about becoming pregnant.

If you have more questions about how to make your decision, discussing the COVID-19 vaccine with a trusted healthcare provider is a great step.

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Spencer Blackman, MD, One Medical Provider

Spencer practices relationship-centered primary care, blending a traditional sensibility with up-to-date clinical knowledge and a strong focus on disease prevention. He enjoys getting to know his patients well, educating and empowering them to participate in health care decisions. Spencer completed his residency training at UCSF and practiced primary care, urgent care, sports medicine and adolescent medicine throughout the Bay Area before joining One Medical Group. He is certified with the American Board of Family Medicine. Spencer is a One Medical Group provider.

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The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, a national, modern primary care practice pairing 24/7 virtual care services with inviting and convenient in-person care at over 100 locations across the U.S. One Medical is on a mission to transform health care for all through a human-centered, technology-powered approach to caring for people at every stage of life.

Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. 1Life Healthcare, Inc. and the One Medical entities make no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.