Pregnant, breastfeeding and fertility: deciding on COVID-19 vaccination

You should get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect yourself from the virus. You should also get a booster dose.

But getting vaccinated is a personal decision. You may have questions.

Read advice on this page to help you decide about getting vaccinated if you are:

If you are pregnant

COVID-19 is a risk to your health and the health of your baby.

Most pregnant women who get the virus get mild to moderate symptoms. They give birth as planned and the risk of passing on COVID-19 to their baby is low.

But you are more likely to get very unwell and need treatment in intensive care than a woman who is not pregnant.

The virus may also cause complications for your baby, including premature labour or stillbirth. You may not have symptoms of COVID-19 when this happens.

Vaccine will protect you and your baby

Being vaccinated will reduce the chance of you becoming very unwell from COVID-19 and reduce the chance of complications for your baby.

COVID-19 vaccines are not shown to have any negative effect on babies in the womb. They may actually help to protect your baby after birth as you may pass on antibodies from the vaccine to your baby.

Read more about COVID-19 and pregnancy

Evidence shows COVID-19 vaccines are safe

More than 124,000 pregnant women in the US, around 70,000 in Israel, and thousands worldwide have now had a COVID-19 vaccine.

Pregnant women in Ireland have been getting the COVID-19 vaccine through maternity hospitals since May. There has been no increase in reported side-effects from COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant women or their babies anywhere in the world.

But COVID-19 vaccines are new. We are still learning about them. There is limited data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy. They were not tested on pregnant women during clinical trials. Trials are now taking place.

The COVID-19 vaccines are not live vaccines. This means they cannot give you or your baby COVID-19.

The vaccine doses are rapidly broken down in your body. They cannot become part of your or your baby’s DNA.

If you decide not to get vaccinated

You may decide to wait until your baby is born or until you have more information before getting a vaccine.

If you wait, there is a greater risk you will become very unwell if you get COVID-19. There are also risks for your baby.

Take extra care to protect yourself against COVID-19 if you decide not to get vaccinated.

Avoid situations where you could pick up the virus. This includes crowded areas or communities with high rates of the virus.

Follow the advice for:

If you are trying for a baby

You do not need to leave any gap between having your COVID-19 vaccine and:

Fertility and COVID-19 vaccination

There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination affects fertility. Do not put off having a vaccine because you are hoping to get pregnant.

There is no evidence that the vaccine has any link to irregular periods.

If you are breastfeeding

You can get a COVID-19 vaccine if you are breastfeeding. This will protect you from getting seriously unwell due to COVID-19.

You can continue to breastfeed safely after being vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccines do not affect breastfed babies. There is no known reason to avoid breastfeeding if you are vaccinated.

Getting a vaccine cannot infect your baby with COVID-19.

Protection for your baby

If you were vaccinated while pregnant, antibodies against COVID-19 may pass into your first breast milk or colostrum. This may give some protection from the virus to your baby.

This content was fact checked by vaccine experts working in Ireland.

Last updated: 15 December 2021 at 11:30am

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