Information about the health of pregnant women who have a COVID infection and the effect for them and their babies has been collected since the start of the pandemic. There is growing evidence showing that women who are pregnant are at increased risk of serious consequences from coronavirus (COVID-19). The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have now placed all pregnant women in an “at risk” clinical risk group within the COVID-19 vaccination programme. These risks increase further if you have medical problems (like diabetes or high blood pressure) or are overweight, over 35 years old, from a Black or Asian background or are in the last trimester of pregnancy.

The vaccine may cause short-term mild side effects (such as a sore injection site or mild fever) but has been shown to be beneficial by:

  • Reducing severe disease in pregnant women (over 96% of pregnant women admitted to hospital with severe symptoms of COVID since February 2021 were unvaccinated).
  • Reduce risk of stillbirth and preterm birth for babies.
  • Reduce risk of transmission to other vulnerable people in your household, family, workplace or staff caring for you in the maternity service.

Is it safe?

Several hundred thousand pregnant women across the world have already received a COVID-19 vaccine, and no safety concerns have been identified.

  • There is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines used in pregnancy increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirths, congenital abnormalities or birth complications. Having a UK approved COVID-19 vaccine is safer than having COVID-19 itself.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine is not “live” which means you cannot catch COVID from the vaccine, however, antibodies (the immunity that your body creates when you have the vaccine), can protect your baby by crossing through the placenta or breastmilk to your baby. Many other non-live vaccines have been safely given in pregnancy for many years (including flu and whooping cough vaccines).
  • COVID-19 vaccines do not contain ingredients that are known to be harmful to pregnant women or to a developing baby.

When should I have the vaccine?

You can have the vaccine at any stage of pregnancy or after giving birth, there is no need to wait until after the first 12 weeks. The first and second doses of the vaccine should be given 8 weeks apart and the booster dose after a further 3 months. If you have already started the vaccination course you can continue in pregnancy and will be advised to have the same type of vaccine as a second dose, even if there has been a long delay since your first vaccine. If you have recently had a COVID infection you should wait for 28 days from your first symptoms, or from your positive PCR test if were asymptomatic, before booking a vaccination.

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