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Emma Cronin, registered nurse and midwife in our Health at Hand team

COVID-19 vaccination in pre-pregnancy, pregnancy and while breast feeding

Pregnancy

5 August 2021

Understandably there are lots of questions and concerns when it comes to having the COVID vaccination while pregnant, trying to conceive or breastfeeding. We’ve spoken to Emma Cronin, registered nurse and midwife in our Health at Hand team, to dispel any myths and offer insight to help ease your mind. 

Is it safe to have?

On 16 April 2021, the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) recommended that all women who are looking to conceive, are pregnant and are breast feeding should be offered vaccination against the COVID-19 virus.

Since the JVCI’s recommendation, many others have also updated their websites with the same advice regarding the vaccination, including:

  • The UK Government (Gov.UK)
  • Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG)
  • The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) 
  • Public Health England
  • UKTIS
  • BUMPS
  • Tommy’s.

It doesn’t matter at what stage of pregnancy you receive the jab. ‘The vaccine is considered to be safe and effective at any stage of pregnancy.’

‘It is also recommended when breastfeeding as there is no known risk with having this these types of vaccines (non-live) during breast feeding.’ (RCOG)

Which vaccine should I have?

COVID-19 vaccinations being recommended for use are those manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, as there is more safety data available about the vaccine being administered in pregnancy than that of the Astra- Zeneca vaccine.

However, where an individual has had an initial dose of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine a choice of mixing the vaccines or having the same brand should be offered.

Will it give me COVID?

All of the COVID-19 vaccines offered do not use live virus so do not cause COVID-19 infection in either the pregnant/breast feeding woman or baby.

The COVID-19 vaccinations research has also so far shown that the vaccine does not affect fertility.

When should I receive the vaccination?

Vaccines at this time are to be offered with a gap of between 8-12 weeks between doses but where possible both vaccines should be given before/by the 3rd trimester of pregnancy. This would allow for the maximum protection for mother and baby to be enabled. 

RCOG recommendations for fertility treatment

Recommendations by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and RCOG in relation to the administration of COVID-19 vaccination and having IVF treatments are as follows: 

You may wish to consider the timing of having a COVID-19 vaccine during your fertility treatment. Taking into account that some people may get bothersome side effects in the few days after vaccination that they do not want to have during treatment. 

For example:

  • tenderness at the injection site
  • fever
  • headache
  • muscle ache or feeling tired. 

It may be sensible to separate the date of vaccination by a few days from some treatment procedures (for example, egg collection in IVF), so that any symptoms, such as fever, might be attributed correctly to the vaccine or the treatment procedure. 

Your medical team will be able to advise you about the best time for your situation.

Why should I get vaccinated?

Pregnant women are advised to get the COVID vaccine, because the virus COVID-19 is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than those who aren’t pregnant.

Additional benefits to getting vaccinated include:

  • Reduction of the need for intensive therapy admissions and care for both mother and baby.
  • Reduced risk of miscarriage, premature births and low birth weight.
  • Reduction of severe disease for the pregnant woman.
  • Reduced risk of developing pre-eclampsia, having a caesarean section or stillbirth, as a likely need due to acquiring the COVID-19 infection.
  • Potentially reducing risks of virus infection to those who are clinically vulnerable and to the household. (RCOG/RCM).

If you have any concerns, speak to a medical professional.

Early Years Support from AXA Health

At AXA Health, we understand that becoming a parent – and a family – is a life-changing event, which at times we may not feel fully prepared for.

That's why we've developed our Early Years Support Service for anyone embarking on parenthood, however many times you may have ‘been there’ before!

Available through our Health at Hand team, the Early Years Support Service has registered midwives and nurses at the end of the phone for you or your family to talk to, day or night, 365 days a year*. 

We're here to provide medical information and support, whenever you need us. So, if you’re looking for reassurance, a friendly chat, or if you have questions about anything from pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period, to adapting to parenthood and beyond, call us on 0800 003 004. If you prefer, you can also contact us by email via our Ask the Expert service and one of the team will get back to you.  

*Availability of specialist support:

Nurses and counsellors are available 24 hours a day, every day.

Midwife and pharmacist services available 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm Saturdays, and 8am to 12pm Sundays. Call backs can be arranged.

We will transfer members to our counselling service as appropriate.

Sources

Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists. Coronavirus infection and pregnancy. Information for pregnant women and their families. Updated 19 July 2021. Retrieved here: Coronavirus infection and pregnancy (rcog.org.uk).

Human fertilisation& Embryology Authority. FAQ Coronavirus (COVID-19). Updated 21 December 2020. Retrieved here: COVID-19-clinic-faqs-21-december-2020.pdf (hfea.gov.uk).

Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists. COVID-19 vaccines, pregnancy and breastfeeding. Updated 19 July 2021. Retrieved here: COVID-19 vaccines, pregnancy and breastfeeding (rcog.org.uk).

Public Health England. The Green Book. Chapter 14a - COVID-19 - SARS-CoV-2. 30 July 2021. Retrieved here: COVID-19 Greenbook chapter 14a (publishing.service.gov.uk).

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