Published on June 01, 2022

A pregnant woman getting vaccinated.

Research finds COVID-19 vaccines safe and effective for pregnant women

Obstetricians and family medicine providers across the country are advising obstetric patients that COVID-19 vaccination is safe and effective, and they are urging pregnant women to protect themselves by getting vaccinated.

"Vaccination is recommended for all women who are pregnant, planning on pregnancy or currently breastfeeding," said Tracy Lewis, MD, a ProHealth Medical Group family medicine physician with obstetrics. "COVID-19 in pregnancy is associated with a higher risk of complications, and the vaccines can reduce those risks."

There is no evidence of adverse maternal or fetal effect from vaccinating pregnant individuals, and a growing body of data demonstrate the safety of such use. Individuals who are or will be pregnant should receive the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, there is no need to avoid initiation of breastfeeding or discontinue breastfeeding in patients who receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine strongly urge vaccination, citing data that puts pregnant people at increased risk of severe complications and even death from COVID-19.

The Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine is dedicated to ensuring optimal pregnancy outcomes for mothers and babies. Board-certified maternal-fetal medicine physicians are considered high-risk pregnancy experts. They have years of training in maternal-fetal medicine and are involved in the latest advancements in maternal and fetal care.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has confirmed the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy as well as for breastfeeding infants and family planning.

According to COVID-19 research:

  • The benefits of vaccination for pregnant women outweigh any potential risks.
  • The vaccines do not cause fertility problems or infection.
  • Pregnant women and those who have recently been pregnant are more likely to become severely ill than others if they become infected with the virus.
  • Pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk of preterm birth.
  • Unvaccinated people are far more likely to require hospitalization than others are.

Highly infectious COVID-19 variants make it more important than ever to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Some pregnant women with COVID-19 have been hospitalized and cared for in intensive care units, require artificial ventilation and can experience heart and lung damage.

When a pregnant mother is deprived of vital oxygen, her developing baby is also deprived of the oxygen needed to thrive. Lack of oxygen can lead to long-term health issues for a baby, including cerebral palsy, seizures, cognitive disability and other associated conditions.

COVID-19 can also cause silent hypoxia, or low oxygen saturation levels in pregnant women and other patients without initial shortness of breath. This can lead to rapid tissue damage, secondary infection in vital organs, cytokine storm, or heart damage.

The bottom line is that women who are pregnant, thinking about becoming pregnant, or are breastfeeding should make sure to get fully vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as possible. Everyone is encouraged to help stop the spread of COVID-19 through vaccination, mask wearing and frequent handwashing and sanitation practices.

COVID-19 vaccination is widely available in Waukesha County. ProHealth Care provides information about scheduling vaccinations at 262-928-5566, on the MyChart patient portal, and at ProHealthCare.org/Vaccination.