Vaccination efforts have been steadily growing worldwide as various COVID-19 vaccines get approved for use. The sooner more people get vaccinated, the less chance of COVID-19 transmission and the probability of succumbing to serious symptoms of the virus.
Returning to some semblance of normalcy may be on the horizon, but what about women who are pregnant or are breastfeeding? Is it (really) safe for them to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
Is it safe to get vaccinated if you are pregnant?
Being pregnant may increase your risk of complications should you get infected with COVID-19. This is where the COVID-19 vaccine may help reduce that probability. The question is, does the vaccine itself pose any risks to mother and unborn child, or the baby she's nursing?
Based on the safety and efficacy data of the current vaccines in the market, the World Health Organization (WHO) states they do not have any reason to suggest there will be specific risks that would outweigh the benefits of vaccination for pregnant women. In fact, findings of the current available data did not indicate any adverse effects on foetal development.
Where viral vector vaccines (uses a modified version of a different virus) are concerned, they have been given to pregnant women in all trimesters. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not identified any adverse pregnancy-related outcomes for these women and infants.
If you are still unsure, we highly recommend that you speak to your obstetrician & gynaecologist (O&G) for advice and discuss your suitability for COVID-19 vaccination.
Is it safe to get vaccinated if you are breastfeeding?
There is data that the vaccines currently available in the market are non-replicating vaccines. Non-replicating vaccines can create an immune response but do not reproduce inside the host cells – meaning that the vaccine can’t be passed to your baby through breast milk. This means that your baby won’t be at high risk of having any health complications if you choose to take the COVID-19 vaccine. This also means that your baby won’t be at high risk of having any health complications if you choose to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
It is safe to be vaccinated while breastfeeding. In fact, the vaccination has been shown to produce antibodies in both pregnant and breastfeeding women. These antibodies are transferred to babies before birth, and to the breastmilk, which could provide protection for babies against COVID-19.
The last word
It is strongly encouraged that pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers consider getting vaccinated against COVID-19. However, do consult your O&G or family physician before taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
Article reviewed by Dr Natalie Chua, obstetrician & gynaecologist at Parkway East Hospital
Safety of covid-19 vaccine in pregnant women, breastfeeding women and women planning to conceive, College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists Singapore, 1 June 2021, https://www.ams.edu.sg/view-pdf.aspx?file=media%5c6134_fi_55.PDF&ofile=JOINTA%7e2.PDF. Accessed 30 June 2021.