Is it safe to vaccinate if you are breastfeeding or pregnant?

by | Aug 19, 2021

Patient Information Leaflet developed by the South African Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Pregnancy is a special time for a woman, but it can also be difficult and stressful, especially with the added uncertainties around the safety of the Covid-19 vaccine.
The South African Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (SASOG) provides the following advice on the use of the Covid-19 vaccine by pregnant and breastfeeding women.

 

COVID-19 VACCINATION ADVICE FOR PREGNANT AND BREASTFEEDING WOMEN

There has been a phased roll-out of COVID-19 vaccination in South Africa with several vaccines being used, following SAHPRA regulatory approval.

Most COVID-19 vaccines have shown to be about 70-90% effective at preventing COVID-19 illness after the second dose. While considerable research has been conducted into the safety of the vaccine, there is a lack of information on pregnancies during vaccine trials. However, there is mounting evidence that taking the vaccine during pregnancy is safe for both mother and fetus and that the vaccine provides protection of the newborn from COVID-19.

SASOG encourages all pregnant and breastfeeding women to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to protect themselves against severe disease. In the case of pregnant women, SASOG recommends taking the vaccine after 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Studies show that the risk for critical illness is higher for pregnant than non-pregnant women, particularly in the 3rd trimester. It has been found that, while most women will have no COVID-19 symptoms in pregnancy, pregnant women who experience COVID-19 symptoms have a higher risk of being admitted to ICU, needing mechanical ventilation and dying, than non-pregnant women of the same age.

SASOG also recommends that women who are planning to become pregnant or undergo fertility treatment should become vaccinated and need not delay conception. If a woman becomes pregnant after the first dose of the COVID vaccine, the second dose should be administered as indicated.

Any questions or concerns you may have about being vaccinated during pregnancy or if you are breastfeeding should be thoroughly discussed with your doctor or healthcare professional, who will assist you in making your decision.

“If you are on the fence about getting the COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant or breastfeeding please read this article and spread the word. It could very well save lives.” Guest Editor Jessica King

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