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Vaccination in pregnancy FAQs

Here you will find answers to some frequently asked questions around the COVID-19 vaccination programme and pregnancy.

Why do I need the vaccine?

COVID-19 increases the risk of stillbirth and giving birth prematurely, as well as the risk of pre-eclampsia, so it is really important that pregnant women get the vaccine to protect both them and their baby against the virus and its serious effects.

Theindependent Joint Committee on Vaccine Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that the vaccine is safe and effective for pregnant women. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives also both recommend the vaccine as one of the best defences for pregnant women against severe COVID-19 infection.

Benefits of getting the vaccine include:

  • Reduction in severe disease for the pregnant woman
  • Reduction in the risk of stillbirth and prematurity for the baby
  • Reducing the risk of transmission to household members.

How do I know the COVID-19 vaccines are safe for me and my baby?

The vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety and effectiveness. They have been approved by an independent body (The Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), which follows international standards of safety, and have gone through all the same clinical trials and safety checks that all other licensed medicines have to complete before they can be used.

As with all new medicines, the vaccine was not routinely offered to pregnant women until further data became available. Once this was available, the JCVI confirmed that the vaccine was both safe and effective to take in pregnancy. This is supported by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives, which have both recommended vaccinations as one of the best defences for pregnant women against severe COVID-19 infection

The COVID-19 vaccines used in the UK aren’t ‘live’ vaccines so can’t infect you or your baby with COVID-19. The vaccine teaches your body to fight the COVID-19 virus and the components of the vaccine leave the body within a few days.

Over 55,000 pregnant women in England and Scotland have received a COVID-19 vaccine with no adverse effects recorded. Research from six studies in four countries, involving more than 40,00 pregnant women, has confirmed that the vaccine does not increase the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth, growth or any congenital abnormalities.

Can the vaccines cause miscarriage?

No, there is absolutely no link between having the vaccine and miscarriage.

Sadly, miscarriage occurs in about 20-25% in 100 pregnancies in the UK, most of which are during the first 12 to 13 weeks of pregnancy (the first trimester). The MHRA monitors all data relating to vaccines in pregnancy and has confirmed that there is no increase in the numbers of miscarriages or stillbirths being reported in women who have had the COVID-19 vaccination.

Evidence has shown that COVID-19 can lead to an increased risk of premature or still birth so the vaccine will actually help to protect women from this.

Can the vaccine affect the placenta? 

No. A study has been carried out on this and shown there is no evidence of any injury to the placenta in women who received the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy. This is in addition to the body of research that has shown COVID-19 vaccines are safe in pregnancy.

Can I have the vaccine during my first trimester?

Yes. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective at any stage of pregnancy so you should have it as soon as possible.

Can I have the COVID-19 vaccination if I plan to become pregnant?

Yes. Getting vaccinated before pregnancy helps prevent COVID-19 infection and its serious consequences. There is no need to delay pregnancy after having the vaccination and fertility experts recommend having the vaccine if you are trying to conceive.

Can I have the COVID-19 vaccine during IVF treatment?

Yes. In fact fertility experts, including the British Fertility Society and Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists, recommend having the vaccine if you are trying to conceive or undergoing fertility treatment. Your medical team can advise you about the best time for your situation. If you have the vaccine at this time, you’ll help protect yourself and your baby from the effects of COVID-19 infection in pregnancy.

Will I experience side effects from the vaccine?

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. These are usually mild and don’t last long. Very common side effects in the first day or two after your vaccine include: pain or tenderness in your arm where you had your injection, feeling tired and headaches, aches and chills.

You may also have flu like symptoms and experiences episodes of shivering or shaking for a day or two. If you develop a fever (your temperature is 38C or above) you can rest and take paracetamol, which is safe in pregnancy.

If you’re concerned about your symptoms, you can contact your GP or maternity team for further advice.

Can the COVID-19 vaccine affect my fertility?

No. Medical experts agree that it is not possible for the vaccines to affect fertility. Like all vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccines teach your body to fight the disease. They do not have any ingredients that would affect fertility and the components leave the body within a few days.

Can I have the COVID-19 vaccination when breastfeeding?

COVID-19 vaccines are safe to have when breastfeeding. The components leave the body within a few days and there’s no plausible way any vaccine ingredient could pass to your baby through breast milk.

Can I take my baby / breastfeed at a vaccination centre?

Vaccination centres welcome women who may need to bring their baby or children along in addition to a family member, friend or partner who may be offering support at this appointment.

Women should feel reassured that facilities are available to support breastfeeding should it be required as well as access to information and support around vaccination.