COVID-19 Vaccine Safety during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
It is our understanding, based of information available, that the risks of the COVID-19 vaccine during Pregnancy and Lactation are low. Studies have not included pregnant or lactating women. The risk and benefit of the vaccine should be compared to each mother’s individual risk for getting COVID-19 as well as how well she is expected to tolerate the disease.
The components of the vaccine do not transfer in the breast milk and vaccination is safe for lactating mothers.
BREASTFEEDING and the COVID-19 Vaccine:
The use of these new vaccines in breastfeeding mothers has not been studied, largely because none of them have been approved for use. Most of the COVID-19 vaccines are probably going to be quite safe for breastfeeding mothers and their infants
At this time, none of the new vaccines are live or infectious. They are made of very few ingredients: the fragile mRNA, some fats to protect the mRNA for long enough for your body to respond to it, and some salts to make the shot sting less. There are NO preservatives!
All the mRNA vaccines thus far (produced by Pfizer and Moderna) are prepared by stimulating the human mRNA within the cell to build the “spike” proteins. In another set of vaccines, the structure of the spike protein from the virus is synthetically rebuilt by recombinant means and presented bound to another carrier protein to the patient in the injection. The body then creates antibodies to this “spike” protein.
The new mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna), give the muscle cell instructions to make a harmless piece of protein called the “spike protein.” The Spike protein is the mushroom-like protein on the surface of the virus that allows it to attach to the body’s cells. Once the mRNA instructions are inside the muscle cells, the cell uses them to make a lot of spike protein. After this protein piece is made, it moves to the surface of the cell. Next, the cell displays the Spike protein piece on its surface. Our immune system quickly recognizes that the spike protein doesn’t belong there and starts making antibodies. Thus, you become temporarily immune to the COVID-19 virus. The muscle cell then breaks down mRNA code and rids itself of these mRNA instructions.
At the end of the vaccination process, our bodies have learned how to protect against future infection. The benefit of mRNA vaccines, like all vaccines, is those vaccinated gain this protection without ever having to risk the serious consequences of getting sick with COVID-19. Also, you’re never exposed to a live virus in the vaccine.
The WHO, Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, American College of Obstetricians and Gyneocologists(ACOG), Academy of Breast Feeding Medicine all also support the use of the vaccine in breastfeeding women similar to their non-breastfeeding peers.
PREGNANCY and the COVID-19 Vaccine:
For pregnant women, the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) has issued the statement below supporting the use of Covid-19 vaccinations in pregnant women.
"In general, SMFM strongly recommends that pregnant women have access to COVID-19 vaccines in all phases of future vaccine campaigns, and that she and her healthcare professional engage in shared decision-making regarding her receipt of the vaccine. Counseling should balance available data on vaccine safety, risks to pregnant women from SARS-CoV-2 infection, and a woman’s individual risk for infection and severe disease. As data emerge, counseling will likely shift, as some vaccines may be more suitable for pregnant women. mRNA vaccines, which are likely to be the first vaccines available, do not contain a live virus but rather induce humoral and cellular immune response through the use of viral mRNA. Healthcare professionals should also counsel their patients that the theoretical risk of fetal harm from mRNA vaccines is very low."
The American College of Obstetricians and Gyneocologists (ACOG) also released a statement supporting the vaccine in pregnancy and lactation. Here are the highlights:
While a conversation with a clinician may be helpful, it should not be required prior to vaccination, as this may cause unnecessary barriers to access.