BACK

Pregnant or breastfeeding women have similar reactions to COVID-19 jabs as everyone else

This article was published on
August 19, 2021

This explainer is more than 90 days old. Some of the information might be out of date or no longer relevant. Browse our homepage for up to date content or request information about a specific topic from our team of scientists.

Comparing reactions to COVID-19 vaccines in 7,809 pregnant women, 6,815 lactating women, and 2,901 women who were neither pregnant nor lactating but were planning pregnancy, US scientists say reactions one day after the jabs were similar across the groups, and all the groups reported increased reactions following dose two of the mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer). Although the study was limited by covering only the first wave of vaccination, and relied on self-reporting of reactions, which can be unreliable, the results are comparable with previously reported findings among pregnant women, the researchers say.

Comparing reactions to COVID-19 vaccines in 7,809 pregnant women, 6,815 lactating women, and 2,901 women who were neither pregnant nor lactating but were planning pregnancy, US scientists say reactions one day after the jabs were similar across the groups, and all the groups reported increased reactions following dose two of the mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer). Although the study was limited by covering only the first wave of vaccination, and relied on self-reporting of reactions, which can be unreliable, the results are comparable with previously reported findings among pregnant women, the researchers say.

Publication

Short-term Reactions Among Pregnant and Lactating Individuals in the First Wave of the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Not peer-reviewed
This work has not been scrutinised by independent experts, or the story does not contain research data to review (for example an opinion piece). If you are reporting on research that has yet to go through peer-review (eg. conference abstracts and preprints) be aware that the findings can change during the peer review process
Peer-reviewed
This work was reviewed and scrutinised by relevant independent experts.

What our experts say

Context and background

Resources

Media briefing

Media Release

Expert Comments: 

Dr Alex Polyakov

The study published in the JAMA Network Open examined short-term side-effects of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccination on pregnant and breast-feeding individuals, and compared it to experiences of non-pregnant women.

This was an online based study which enrolled participants via social networks and all data collected was self-reported by the participants. More than 17,000 individuals participated in this survey, 7,809 were pregnant, 6,815 were breastfeeding and 2,901 were neither. The group were similar in terms of baseline characteristics.

The main finding was that there were no differences between the rate of minor side-effects between pregnant, breastfeeding and non-pregnant/not breastfeeding individuals. The side-effects most commonly experienced were pain at injection site (91.4%) and fatigue (31.3%), with myalgia (muscle pain), headaches, chills and fever being less common. All these side-effects were observed more commonly after the second dose of the vaccine compared to the first.

The conclusions that can be drawn from this study are that minor side-effects following administration of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are common, with pain at the injection site and fatigue being most likely to be experienced.

There is no increased risk of these side-effects for pregnant and breastfeeding individuals.

Current guidelines in Australia recommend vaccination against COVID-19 for pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy and during breastfeeding and this study supports vaccine safety in these groups.

It must also be stressed that COVID-19 infection in pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of severe clinical symptoms which may adversely affect the health of the mother and the wellbeing of the fetus.

On the other hand, there is no evidence to suggest that vaccination either during pregnancy or breastfeeding is associated with a higher risk of either long- or short-term complications, compared to the general population. The balance of risks clearly favours vaccination in these at-risk groups.

Q&A

No items found.