Pregnancy, breastfeeding and fertility: COVID-19 vaccination

You should get vaccinated to protect yourself from serious illness with COVID-19 if you are:

Booster doses while pregnant

If you had a booster dose during your current pregnancy, you do not need a second booster.

If you had a booster dose before this pregnancy, you can get your second booster at or after 16 weeks of your pregnancy.

If you have not had any COVID-19 vaccines yet

If you have not had any COVID-19 vaccines, you can get your first round of COVID-19 vaccination or first booster at any stage of your pregnancy.

What does ‘first round of COVID-19 vaccination’ mean?

When we say ‘first round of COVID-19 vaccination’ we mean your dose 1 and dose 2 if you got AstraZeneca, Moderna or Pfizer. Or your single dose if you got the Janssen vaccine.

If you have a weak immune system, you should have been offered an ‘additional dose’ to give you better protection. This is because your immune system may not respond as well to vaccination. You will still need your booster doses after this additional dose.

How to get vaccinated

You can choose to:

Which vaccine

You will be offered either the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. These are mRNA vaccines.

You will only be offered the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine if you are aged 30 or older.

Read about COVID-19 vaccine types

COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines

If you are due to get a flu or pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine, you can get a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time.

Flu vaccines are usually offered between October and April.

The whooping cough vaccine is recommended between 16 and 36 weeks of pregnancy. It is usually available throughout the year from your GP.

As a precaution if you have recently had a monkeypox vaccine (Imvanex or Jynneos), wait 4 weeks before you get a COVID-19 vaccine. This is because of the unknown risk of myocarditis. Myocarditis is an inflammatory heart condition.

COVID-19 infection during pregnancy

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.

Vaccine protects 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 help protect your baby after birth as you may pass on antibodies from the vaccine to your baby.

Children under the age of 1 are at higher risk of hospitalisation and severe illness from COVID-19. Young babies whose mothers were vaccinated in pregnancy were less likely to need hospital care with COVID-19.

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy gives you, and your baby, the best possible protection from COVID-19

Read more about COVID-19 and pregnancy

Evidence shows COVID-19 vaccines are safe

Pregnant women in Ireland have been safely getting the COVID-19 vaccine since May 2021. 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.

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.

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.

Side effects

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild to moderate and do not last long.

You can take paracetamol if you have a fever (temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or higher). Do not take ibuprofen or aspirin.

Read about COVID-19 side effects

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

Page last reviewed: 8 November 2022