The Covid-19 Vaccines have caused much conversation, debate and indeed controversy as they roll out around Australia and the world. Are they safe? Which version is best? Do they really work? Indeed, the stream of questions around the Covid-19 Vaccines are seemingly endless.
However, there’s one that I know many women and men who are trying to start or extend their families feel is super important, and that is, “are the Covid-19 vaccines safe to have while you’re trying to conceive, while you’re pregnant and indeed when you’re breastfeeding.”
According to Queensland Health, “There is a lot of misinformation circulating online about the COVID-19 Vaccines affecting fertility and being unsuitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Much of this information is unscientific and factually wrong, causing unnecessary worry for many.”
Let’s do our best to set the record straight, so you can enter into this blissful stage of your life without any added stress.
Will The Covid-19 Vaccine Affect My Fertility?
It is highly unlikely. According to a joint statement issued by the UK’s Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, there are “no believable biological ways that any COVID-19 vaccine would impact male or female fertility.”
The report states that, “Women trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination and there is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines will affect fertility. The most recent JCVI advice says that women who are trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination.”
The statement goes on to say that “if you are in one of the groups offered the vaccine, getting vaccinated before pregnancy will help prevent COVID-19 infection and its serious consequences. In some cases, women will need to make a decision about whether to delay pregnancy until after the vaccine becomes available to them.”
What If I Have Had My First Injection And Fall Pregnant Before The Second?
In this case, I would strongly suggest you seek advice from your gynaecologist. According to IVF Australia, while the COVID-19 vaccine is likely to be safe in pregnancy (as it is not the live virus) the evidence currently available of the safety of the vaccine in pregnancy is still very limited. The Australian Government does not recommend the vaccine in pregnancy but, if you have a particular predisposition to COVID-19 infection, you should seek advice from your doctor.
So, Should I Avoid Getting Vaccinated If I Am Already Pregnant?
Again, this depends on your individual situation, however, IVF Australia suggests that while the COVID-19 vaccines are likely to be safe in pregnancy (as they are not live virus).
A recent joint statement by The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) and The Australian Technical Advisory Group On Immunisation (ATAGI) recommends that “pregnant women are routinely offered Pfizer mRNA vaccine (Cominarty) at any stage of pregnancy. This is because the risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 is significantly higher for pregnant women and their unborn baby.
Global surveillance data from large numbers of pregnant women have not identified any significant safety concerns with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines given at any stage of pregnancy. Furthermore, there is also evidence of antibody in cord blood and breastmilk, which may offer protection to infants through passive immunity.
Pregnant women are encouraged to discuss the decision in relation to timing of vaccination with their health professional.
Women who are trying to become pregnant do not need to delay vaccination or avoid becoming pregnant after vaccination.”
Can I Be Vaccinated If I Am Breastfeeding?
Yes, according to the NSW Health Covid-19 Vaccines Decision Guide. If you are breastfeeding you can receive Comirnaty (the Pfizer vaccine) at any time. You do not need to stop breastfeeding before or after vaccination. There is no evidence that breastfeeding women have any increased risk of complications from COVID-19 compared to women who are not breastfeeding.
At IVF Australia, we add that the Australian Government “have not provided any specific advice concerning other forms of the vaccine at this time. We recommend you speak with your health professional concerning your specific circumstances.”
Comirnaty has not yet been tested in breastfeeding women, but there are no concerns about its safety in breastfeeding women or their babies.
Breastfeeding women can safely receive almost all other vaccines. There is only caution with one vaccine against yellow fever, which is a live vaccine. Comirnaty is not a live vaccine. The mRNA in Comirnaty is rapidly broken down in the body and we do not think that it passes into breastmilk. Even if it did, it would be quickly destroyed in the baby’s gut and is therefore extremely unlikely to have any effect on your baby.