Your questions answered
Louisville has reached an important point in COVID-19 vaccination: It has started vaccinating people in Tier 1c, which includes people who are deemed “essential workers,” as well as those with conditions that put them more at risk for severe COVID-19. This includes pregnancy.
Lyndsey D. Neese, M.D., obstetrician and medical director of quality for women’s services at Norton Healthcare, answers some questions about the vaccine and pregnancy.
Q: If I’m pregnant, should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine strongly recommends pregnant patients have access to the vaccine. Likewise, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that the COVID-19 vaccine should not be withheld from pregnant individuals who meet criteria for vaccination. There are many vaccines that are given safely during pregnancy, and we have not received any information about the COVID-19 vaccines that would suggest they cause an issue.
Q: Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for someone who is pregnant?
A: Recent information released by the V-safe registry of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that there were no safety issues from pregnant patients receiving either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. The registry did not include the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as it had not received emergency use authorization during the time of data collection.
For those involved in the study, the data collected showed no significant difference between those who received the vaccine and those who didn’t as far as miscarriage, stillbirth and pregnancy complications affecting mom or baby.
Q: Were COVID-19 vaccines tested in people who were pregnant?
A: Pregnant individuals were not part of clinical trials, but research trials have begun in some centers. We do know that COVID-19 vaccines have been given to people who were part of Tiers 1a and 1b, and we haven’t seen adverse effects. The vaccines were tested in tens of thousands of people, and there were no serious side effects. COVID-19 vaccines do not contain ingredients that are known to be harmful to pregnant individuals or their babies.
Q: Can I or my baby get COVID-19 from the vaccine?
A: The COVID-19 vaccine does not have live virus and cannot give you or your baby COVID-19.
Q: Can COVID-19 cause serious issues if you are pregnant?
A: COVID-19 patients who are pregnant are five times more likely to end up in the intensive care unit (ICU) or on a ventilator than COVID-19 patients who are not pregnant. Pregnant patients infected with COVID-19 are more likely to die than COVID-19 patients the same age who are not pregnant.
Preterm birth may be more common for pregnant patients with severe COVID-19, but other obstetric complications such as stillbirth have not been shown to increase.
Q: Is one vaccine better than another if I’m pregnant?
A: All three approved vaccines in the United States have been shown to have some effectiveness at preventing COVID-19 infections, and they all are highly effective at preventing severe disease and death. The best vaccine is the one you can get!
Q: If I’m trying to get pregnant, should I avoid the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: No. You absolutely should get it when you have the opportunity. There is no data whatsoever that shows the COVID-19 vaccine causes issues with fertility.
Q: If I’m pregnant, is there a better time during pregnancy to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: We recommend getting the vaccine after the first trimester. The first trimester is when the baby is doing the most development. If you have any concerns, wait until at least the second trimester, which is when the baby is working on just getting bigger.
Q: Will I have side effects when I get the vaccine?
A: Most side effects are mild and can include injection site reactions like sore arm, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and/or fever. A small number of people get a high fever above 102 degrees Fahrenheit. A persistent high fever during the first trimester of pregnancy might increase the risk of congenital defects or miscarriage, which is another reason to delay your COVID-19 vaccine until after the first trimester. The CDC recommends using acetaminophen during pregnancy if you have a high fever.
Be sure to talk to your provider if you have any additional questions or concerns.