The COVID vaccine is as safe for pregnant people as it is for everyone else, research shows

The New England Journal of Medicine has released reassuring new data about the COVID vaccine and pregnancy.


A version of this post was originally published on April 22, 2021. It has been updated.

Since the rollout of the mRNA COVID vaccines began late last year, many have been wondering if it's safe to get the vaccine while pregnant. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization all agree the COVID vaccine is safe for those who are pregnant, and now current research finds no evidence that the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines pose serious risks during pregnancy.

The data, published in June in The New England Journal of Medicine, shows that mRNA vaccines are not correlated with an increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth or birth defects when administered during pregnancy.

Pregnant people with COVID-19 are more likely to be admitted into the intensive care unit and need respiratory support compared to non-pregnant people of the same age. COVID-19 also increases the risk of premature birth. According to the WHO, 1 in 4 of all babies born to women with COVID-19 was admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit.

The new study reviewed data on 35,691 pregnant people between December 14, 2020 to February 28, 2021 from the CDC's V-safe program, as well as data from the CDC's Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Pregnant participants were between 16-54 years old.

Within the V-safe group, there were 3,958 pregnant participants. Data shows 827 completed pregnancies, 115 experienced pregnancy loss (13.9% of study participants; versus 10% to 26% in the general population), and 712 of them had a live birth (86.1%). Preterm births occurred in 9.4% of participants (as compared to 8% to 15% in the general population) and only 3.2% of these were small gestational age (as compared to 3% to 5% in the general population). There were no neonatal deaths reported.

In the VAERS group, 221 pregnancy-related adverse events were reported to the CDC's VAERS registry, and 46 of them were miscarriages.

After vaccination, pregnant participants reported similar side effects experienced by the nonpregnant vaccine recipients: pain at the injection site, fatigue, headaches and muscle pain.

All in all, the adverse pregnancy effects in vaccine recipients did not appear to differ from those reported in pregnant people before the pandemic.

"Although not directly comparable, calculated proportions of adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes in persons vaccinated against Covid-19 who had a completed pregnancy were similar to incidences reported in studies involving pregnant women that were conducted before the Covid-19 pandemic," the findings concluded.

These findings are extremely reassuring for those who are considering vaccination in pregnancy. Research will continue to assess long-term COVID-19 vaccine safety during pregnancy, particularly in early pregnancy.

But the available data is very helpful to expecting families when it comes to making informed decisions about the COVID-19 vaccination and prioritizing health and wellness of mama and baby above all.

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