Study Shows Further Evidence That COVID-19 Vaccines Are Safe During Pregnancy
- Researchers in Norway found no evidence of a higher risk of miscarriage after COVID-19 vaccination.
- Experts hope the new findings will reassure pregnant people who have been concerned about the safety of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy.
- The CDC recommends the COVID-19 vaccine for pre-pregnant, pregnant, or breastfeeding people at any time.
However, a new study provides further reassurance to pregnant people who are concerned about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy.1
All About the Study
After analyzing several Norwegian national health registries, researchers found no evidence of an increased risk of early pregnancy loss after COVID-19 vaccination. They compared the proportion of vaccinated people who experienced a miscarriage during the first trimester and people who were still pregnant at the end of the first trimester.1
COVID-19 and Pregnancy
Sherry Ross, MD, OB/GYN and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, welcomes the study findings. “Pregnant women are already immune-suppressed, so getting COVID-19 during pregnancy can be dangerous, and even deadly,” she says.
Pregnant people with COVID-19 are more at risk for preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy),2 preterm labor, and more advanced COVID-19 respiratory and other complicating symptoms.3 “They are also more at risk for other adverse pregnancy problems,” says Dr. Ross. “But these can all be prevented by getting the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy.”
We know that pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill when infected with COVID-19.
Veleka Willis, MD, an OB/GYN in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Langone Brooklyn and assistant clinical professor at NYU Langone Health, acknowledges that the data is currently limited on the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine versus any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy.
However, Dr. Willis points out that the available data suggests that receiving the vaccine can protect the individual from severe illness as a result of COVID-19. “We know that pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill when infected with COVID-19,” she says.
Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine During Pregnancy
COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant. All respected health care organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American College of Gynecologists (ACOG), and Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) have each issued statements in support of pregnant people getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
"The COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for pre-pregnant, pregnant, or breastfeeding women at any time," says Dr. Ross. "Medical studies support its safety and protection to the mother and the baby through her antibodies. It is not associated with any negative side effects, including miscarriage or infertility, as many women falsely believe."
When Dr. Ross speaks to her own patients, she reassures them that getting the COVID-19 vaccine does not increase the risk of an early pregnancy loss, and reminds them that the benefits of getting the vaccine far exceed the risks.
The COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for pre-pregnant, pregnant, or breastfeeding women at any time. It is not associated with any negative side effects, including miscarriage or infertility, as many women falsely believe.
"Many vaccines are allowed during pregnancy when the benefit of vaccine is thought to outweigh the potential risk," adds Dr. Willis. For example, currently pregnant women are offered TDAP (tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis) and influenza vaccines during pregnancy.
Individuals with a history of miscarriage may be particularly concerned about getting the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy, but Dr. Willis says there's no sound evidence that they would be at an increased risk after COVID-19 vaccination.
The CDC is currently enrolling pregnant individuals in a V-safe COVID-19 Vaccine Pregnancy Registry. As of Nov. 2, 2021, there have been 171,951 pregnancies reported. "The registry has not indicated any adverse safety concerns observed among pregnant individuals, and general side effects were similar in pregnant and non-pregnant people," says Dr. Willis. "The data reported by CDC also indicates that the proportion of spontaneous miscarriages reported after COVID-19 vaccination is consistent with the known background rate of this outcome."
While there's no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine puts pregnant people at any increased risk, including higher risk of miscarriage, it's natural to have concerns when you're preparing to bring a child into the world. You might find it helpful to discuss the risks and benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine with your healthcare provider, who knows your health history and will give you the best advice.