The COVID vaccination - pregnancy and fertility - is it safe? 

Important update 16 April: This article was originally published in March. On 16 April, the JCVI advised that pregnant women should now be offered the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as the rest of the population, based on their age and clinical risk group. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/government/news/jcvi-issues-new-advice-on-covid-19-vaccination-for-pregnant-women

 

By Rita Arya, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Warrington and Halton Teaching Hosp.itals NHS FT

There has been a lot of speculation around the Covid-19 vaccine in recent weeks and if it can affect your chances of having a baby. There can be so much conflicting advice out there, some of it from unreliable sources - which creates a lot of anxiety but it’s important to look at the facts and be advised by the trusted experts in your local community.  

If you are planning on getting pregnant, or actively trying, but want to protect yourself against Covid-19 by having the vaccine, there is no evidence to suggest that any of the vaccines will affect fertility. This is confirmed by the Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Obstetricians and British Fertility Society who have all stated that there is no evidence to support this claim.

Reports from unofficial sources have claimed that the vaccine would threaten fertility, due to it containing proteins that are used by the body to make placenta. But this is not correct; it is perfectly safe and advisable to get the vaccine when it’s your turn. This includes people who are having fertility treatments such as IVF. 

The large trials which showed that these vaccines are safe and effective did not however, include pregnant women. But this is often the case in clinical trials, which means there is limited information about the effects of Covid-19 vaccination in pregnant women. A very small number of women became pregnant after they received the vaccine in a trial. There was no sign of problems, but the numbers are too small to be certain. More trials will be done in the near future.

Covid-19 vaccines do not contain ingredients that are known to be harmful to pregnant women or to a developing baby. The vaccines that we are using in the UK are not ‘live’ vaccines and so cannot cause Covid-19 infection in you or your baby.

At present, the vaccine is being offered to pregnant women with certain medical conditions and to health and social care workers. We know that vaccines are effective in preventing Covid-19 and that some pregnant women may become seriously unwell with Covid-19 infection, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy. But the side effects from vaccines are usually mild and no different in pregnancy. 

It is entirely your decision at the end of the day, but it’s important to make sure you know as much as you can about the vaccine and the risks of Covid-19 in pregnancy. Your midwife or obstetrician can advise you.

For further reassurance, you can look up the information: Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine - NHS (www.nhs.uk), COVID-19 vaccination: a guide for all women of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) or www.rcog.org.uk.